Dairy farmers from Down, Armagh and Tyrone came out tops in the Lakeland Dairies Milk Quality Aw-ards, which honour those who have produced milk of an exceptionally high quality.
Sam and John McCormick, Bangor, Down, won the 1M+ litres milk production category and the runners-up in this category were Ivan and David Dunwoody Milford, Armagh.
Martin Lappin, Tynan, County Armagh, won the 0-1M litres milk production category. The runners-up were William and Alec McCullough, Holywood, County Down.
In the category for Best New Entrant to Dairy Farming, Derek Dunn, Donemana, Tyrone, won this award for excellent milk quality.
Winning a milk quality award is a truly major achievement. The awards publicly recognise the achievements of Lakeland Dairies’ milk suppliers who are committed to efficiency and quality in all aspects of their milk production.
The Northern Ireland winners emerged from among 2,500 milk producers across 15 counties North and South. Farmer owned Lakeland Dairies sources over 600 million litres of milk annually from over 700 high quality family farms in Northern Ireland.
The awards were presented by the Irish Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, Heather Humphreys, together with Lakeland Dairies’ chairman Alo Duffy and group chief executive Michael Hanley at a gala ceremony to mark the occasion.
Farmer owned Lakeland Dairies processes milk into a wide range of value-added dairy foodservice products and food ingredients.
Lakeland has a portfolio of 240 different dairy products which it exports to 80 countries worldwide. The co-operative’s major Global Logistics Centre and foodservice manufacturing site is located at Newtownards, with butter and powder facilities also located at Banbridge.
Congratulating the winners, Mr Alo Duffy said: “The milk quality awards are a source of great pride because they centre on excellence in dairy farming. The markets that we deal with are largely demand led, with multiple supply channels for customers and consumers to choose from.
“They want products that are safely, securely and sustainably produced and we need to be able to verify that this is the case to the satisfaction of our international customers.
“The milk we collect for processing, produced from pasture fed herds on family owned farms, is the high quality raw material on which we have built our reputation as a global dairy provider.”
Lakeland chief executive Michael Hanley added: “Lakeland Dairies’ Northern Ireland milk producers are well placed to cater for global dairy demand as a result of the overall efficiency and sustainability of their production and our processing systems.
“We have made strategic investments to create the scale and flexibility that are necessary to compete successfully on a worldwide basis.
“The quality of our dairy farmers and the milk that they supply to us is simply world class. That is what underpins our opportunity for future growth as a farmer owned co-operative exporting 240 different dairy products and food ingredients to customers in 80 countries worldwide.”
Recently announced research showed that Lakeland Dairies’ milk suppliers in Northern Ireland are confident for their future in dairying. Ninety-five per cent of Lakeland milk suppliers in Northern Ireland say they will stay in production for the future, including expansion already completed to date.
In addition to farmers who have grown their output, half of Lakeland milk suppliers said they will further expand their milk production by approximately three per cent in each year to 2022.
By then Lakeland milk suppliers say that they will increase cow numbers on the farm by 11 per cent and milk output from the farm will increase by 14 per cent to approximately 1.26 million litres.
Lakeland Dairies is a farmer owned dairy processing co-operative with operations across 15 counties on a cross border basis.
Lakeland collects and processes over 1.2 billion litres of locally produced milk each year into a wide range of value-added dairy foodservice and food ingredient products which it exports worldwide.