Boss praises resilience of farmers as Dale Farm produces solid results

Dale Farm Group chief executive Nick Whelan and chairman Fred Allen
Gary McDonald Business Editor

DAIRY co-op Dale Farm has increased its turnover and operating profit in what chief executive Nick Whelan has labelled “a resilient performance in a challenging Covid environment”.

Its latest account show that the group generated £524 million from dairy produce such as milk, cheese, butter and yoghurt in the year to March - up from £505 million in 2019.

Group operating profit lifted from £12.2m to £14, but after exceptional items came in £9.9m, which was down on the previous year's figure. EBITDA lifted to £20.8m from £19.3m. Its capital expenditure was more than £6m.

The results come at a pivotal time for the Dale Farm business, which is breaking into new markets.

Last month it signed a new deal with Danish giant Arla Foods to supply it with whey protein concentrate for use in infant formula and consumer health ingredients, which will add value to the business for its 1,3000 farmer owners.

Earlier this year it also unveiled a major rebrand as part of ambitious growth strategy, bringing farming to the forefront visually, as well as incorporating the brand mission ‘Sharing Goodness Everyday’, highlighting that by choosing the goodness of Dale Farm’s dairy, consumers are in turn supporting local farmers.

Its corporate identity has also been redesigned to align with the new look, using the strapline ‘Your Dairy Cooperative’ to place focus on the role of its farm owners.

Mr Whelan said: “Our breadth of sales channels allowed us to benefit from an uplift in retail sales volumes in 2020/21 despite a decline in foodservice sales volumes due to the pandemic.

“Additional operating costs were incurred during the year due to Covid-19, yet despite these headwinds we achieved a solid set of financial results.

“It is also important to acknowledge the exceptional dedication of our people across the business who delivered a resilient performance.”

He added: “Despite the challenges of 2020/21, we continued with our focus to maximise the return on our members’ milk supply through successful innovation, value added sales streams, proactive margin improvement and continuous cost control, all of which will stand us in good stead and enable us to pay a market competitive milk price as we move forward.”

Looking ahead, he said: “The business improvements achieved during 2020/21 and the continued commitment of our people allow us to look with confidence into 2021/22 and beyond.

“As always, continuous investment in our plant and people, and maximising profitability whilst paying a market competitive milk price will be at the heart of our strategy.”

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