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Lockdown ice cream sales help Dale Farm to turnover of £524m

Co-op’s shop sales offset fall in supplies to catering trade


Challenges: Dale Farm’s Nick Whelan has said it was a solid year of results

Challenges: Dale Farm’s Nick Whelan has said it was a solid year of results

Challenges: Dale Farm’s Nick Whelan has said it was a solid year of results

Northern Ireland’s biggest dairy co-op, Dale Farm, has reported a 3.8% jump in turnover to £524m for 2020. 

The farmer-owned business, which owns brands including Spelga yoghurt and Dromona cheese and butter, said group pre-tax profit was £8.2m for 2020, down 16% from £9.8m the year before. 

However, group operating profit was £14m, compared to £12.2m — but after exceptional items, was reduced to £9.9m.

Chief executive Nick Whelan said it was a “solid year” of results but that there had been challenges, including from Covid-19.

But its range of sales channels had allowed it to sell more products in shops, off-setting declining sales to the catering industry and restaurants.

Extra operating costs were also racked up but he said its staff had shown “exceptional dedication”.

He said the co-op was looking ahead with confidence.

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“As always, continuous investment in our plant and people, and maximising profitability whilst paying a market competitive milk price will be at the heart of our strategy.”

Mr Whelan would not comment directly when asked on whether the NI Protocol had benefited Dale Farm or whether it had created friction.

But he told Belfast Telegraph: “The business is focused firmly on delivering sustainable growth both within domestic and international markets and to do so, we figure out ways to tackle headwinds facing us.

“When you work in business, you deal with challenges head on and I’m proud of how adaptable our people and processes have been throughout the pandemic.”

He said there had been double-digit growth of the company’s Dale Farm milk and ice-cream, Dromona cheese and butter and Spelga yoghurt.

Mr Whelan added: “The desire for simple, affordable pleasures during a difficult time benefited Dale Farm Ice Cream and Mullin’s Ice Cream sales.”

He said its farmers are paid a base milk price of 29.8p per litre, compared to an average in the last three years of 26p.

“We’re conscious of the significant on farm inflationary cost increases faced by farmers — and we remain focused on endeavouring to pay a market competitive milk price.”

Last week, Dale Farm announced it would be supplying Arla Foods Ingredients in Denmark with whey protein concentrate infant formula milk and consumer health ingredients. 

The company told Radio Ulster that the deal “would’ve been a challenge” without the protocol.