SHAREHOLDERS of dairy processing co-operatives Lakeland Dairies and LacPatrick Dairies have voted resoundingly in favour of the merger of the societies.
The merger is expected to take place early in 2019 and was endorsed by the shareholders of each co-operative at their respective Special General Meetings in County Cavan and County Tyrone on Tuesday afternoon.
The ballots of each society were conducted independently by the Irish Co-operative Organisation Society, with
97.24 per cent of shareholders of Lakeland Dairies voting in favour of the merger and 95.99 per cent of those at LacPatrick doing likewise.
Alo Duffy, Chairman of Lakeland Dairies, said: “The shareholders of both societies have created a great good for co-operative dairy farming. By combining our co-operatives and operations, we will continue our strong progress in a very meaningful way.
“The new society being formed through this merger will continue to be farmer owned and controlled while paying a sustainable and competitive milk price in line with market conditions into the future.”
Andrew McConkey, Chairman of LacPatrick Dairies, said: “By voting in favour of the merger, we are confident that both the LacPatrick and Lakeland shareholders have created a sustainable platform for dairy production in the northern half of the country.
“This will create stability, scale, efficiency and further added value for our milk producers together with enhanced global market access for our high quality dairy products.”
Michael Hanley, CEO of Lakeland Dairies and Group CEO designate of the new society, said: “Underpinned by the confidence shown by the members of each co-operative, the combined organisation will be a competitive, international dairy food business which will work as a platform to secure the future
of our dairy farmer members for generations to come.
“It will deliver economies of scale and commercial synergies, processing increased volumes of milk and providing greater capability to address global customer needs for high quality dairy foodservice, food ingredients and consumer products.”
Subject to the necessary regulatory approvals, it is envisaged that the merger will be completed early in 2019. The new society will adopt the name of Lakeland Dairies.
With 3,200 suppliers, the merged co-operatives will process over 1.8 billion litres of milk annually and will have annual revenues of over €1 billion.
The combined organisation will have substantial cashflow to underpin the development of the business. It will also create efficiencies across the organisation and its operations which will enhance the value and return from the merged societies for the benefit of milk producers.