Co-ops merge across Monaghan- Tyrone border

Poor returns to farmers in ultra-competitive market leads Ballyrashane and Town of Monaghan to form LacPatrick

Dairy cows in a row

Dairy cows in a row

 

Northern Ireland’s oldest diary, Ballyrashane Creamery in Coleraine, a co-operative owned by local farmers has agreed to merge with the Town of Monaghan Co-op.

The Coleraine co-op, which employs 150 people and Monaghan Co-op, which processes 500 million litres of milk annually from 1,000 farmers on both sides of the Border, will join forces to create a new company that will be called LacPatrick.

Ballyrashane, which has operated since 1896, is one of the North’s largest liquid milk processors. It supplies dairy products to the retail stores Spar and Vivo and milk to Marks & Spencer stores throughout Ireland.

Since 1997, the co-op has also produced a specialist hand-crafted Regato cheese for the Greek market.

Monaghan Co-op, which was founded in 1901, is headquartered in Coolshannagh but it also has a major facility, TMC Dairies, in Artigarvan in Co Tyrone.

The co-op’s Leckpatrick brand is exported to more than 30 countries across five continents while its Champion Milk brand is well know from Monaghan to Sligo, Louth and Dublin.

The merger of the two co-ops will take effect from September 1st and both believe it will be “game changing” for the organisations involved.

The co-ops say the merger was necessary because of the “the state of the market and the poor returns paid to producers”.

LacPatrick will be led by a new board of directors with Town of Monaghan Co-op chief executive Gabriel D’Arcy assuming the same role in the enlarged group and Ballyrashane CEO Nigel Kemps appointed as deputy chief executive.

They believe “the size and scale” of the new company will make it more competitive and provide the opportunity to enable dairy farmers to grow their own businesses and herds

Mr D’Arcy said he believes the company will become “a powerful new force in the Ulster dairy sector”.

“We now have the scale and ambition to win in what is currently a very challenging and competitive marketplace. Given the volatility of global dairy markets, this merger further underlines the importance and significance of this ambitious move by our two companies.” he said.