Dairy chief predicts profits


Profits at the Irish Dairy Board should at least match the €30 million (£38 million) recorded last year, Dr Noel Cawley, managing director, said yesterday.

At the board's annual review, Dr Cawley said the Irish dairy industry had benefited from a strong recovery in prices this year, a trend which looked set to continue into 2001.

He said that, while most of the price increases were recorded after the milk production peak, the weighted average increase in the return for butter and skim milk powder was 8.6p per gallon.

This was due particularly to the buoyancy of international skim milk powder markets in the second half of the year. The euro's weakness, the dollar's strength and the demand in international markets had all contributed to the strong recovery in dairy product prices, making it "an exceptional year".

In Ireland, he said, dairy production increased across all main product categories, except cheese. Butter was up 1.5 per cent to 137,000 tonnes, while skim and whole milk powder increased by 1.1 per cent and 4.4 per cent.

Chocolate crumb volume rose by 11.1 per cent to 85,000 tonnes, while casein rose 1.9 per cent to 47,000 tonnes. Cheese, at 95,500 tonnes, registered a marginal decline of 1.1 per cent.

Both Dr Cawley and IDB chairman Mr Tom Cleary expressed concern that the EU support levels for dairy products could be hit by the demands on the budget to fund BSE problems and enlargement. However, he said the board did not experience any difficulties during the current BSE crisis.