Dale Farm reports record growth as it tackles ‘unprecedented market inflation'

Nick Whelan, group chief executive at Dale Farm
Gary McDonald Business Editor

DAIRY cooperative Dale Farm has enjoyed record sales of nearly £600 million but has warned of “unprecedented cost inflation” going forward.

But its group chief executive Nick Whelan has reassured the 1,300 dairy farmers who own and supply the cooperative with milk that the organisation has a suitable asset programme in place that maintains and builds processing capacity for future growth.

Overall group turnover in the year to March 2022 rose from £524m to £591m while operating profit came in at £25.6m (up from £14m). Group net profit before tax was £22.1m (up from £8.2m) and EBITDA rose to £33.8m from £20.8m.

And the milk price paid to producers for the financial year averaged at 33.88 pence per litre – up 5.56p year on year – and the highest Dale Farm has ever paid its farmers. The average amount of milk produced per farm during the 2021/22 financial period also increased by 4 per cent.

“This was a strong performance by our cooperative and the talented people within it,” Mr Whelan said.

“Our focus is ensuring that our business is as efficient and profitable as possible so that we can pay the most competitive milk price – while also building a stable future for Dale Farm and the farmers who own our cooperative.

“In recent years, turnover has grown by 60 per cent and profits have almost tripled. Achieving that means constantly adapting to change and taking difficult decisions, reviewing those areas that can no longer deliver for us and investing strongly in those that do. This year’s results are evidence that this approach is working.”

Mr Whelan added: “As we move forward, this type of strategy is more appropriate than ever. The current level of unprecedented cost inflation will require focused management. At the same time, we need to proactively ensure we have a suitable asset replacement programme in place that maintains and builds processing capacity for future growth.”

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