Could GB cope with an Irish seasonal profile?

Published 22 August 16

After running two articles on the seasonal profile of milk in Ireland and how Irish processors cope with it, AHDB asks the question whether such a profile could be managed in Britain.

The key question is whether GB can still meet customers’ requirements despite a more seasonal milk production profile. Liquid milk processors do not have the luxury of being able to play with storage times with fresh milk. As such, it is clear that for around 50% of the milk in the country, a flatter profile is required to meet customers’ requirements. But what about the other 50%?

In cheese, there are some retailers who insist on a specific age profile for their cheese, as well as a specific flavour profile. This would limit how much flexibility cheese manufacturers have in manipulating storage periods. However, the volume of cheese sold on such contracts is small. 

 Could GB cope with an Irish seasonal profile?

Irish processors made significant investment in processing capacity to gear up for the increase in milk production they were anticipating post quota. The seasonal profile of milk means the additional capacity requirement was greater than it might have been in GB. For example, an extra 100m litres of milk on a GB milk profile would need an extra 300k litres per day site capacity. On an Irish profile, it needs a site capable of processing 440k litres per day. In other words, a site almost 50% bigger.

Even on a relatively flat profile, Britain struggles for processing capacity in the peak months. Therefore, although a proportion of customer requirements could still be met from a more seasonal profile of milk, GB does not have enough processing capacity to cope at present. Any such move would need support throughout the supply chain, significant investment, and a lengthy lead time to ensure processing was available.