You Are Here > Home : Corporate : Press Releases

Press Releases


4th August 2014

Northern Ireland’s largest dairy company Dale Farm has been recognised for the excellence of its cheese and yogurt products, having picked up 17 wins at the International Cheese Awards at Nantwich.

The company’s award winning cheese portfolio includes its Dromona, Fivemiletown and Loseley ranges, sold across the UK and further afield. The clutch of wins included three gold, two silver and two bronze awards for its cheddar cheeses and a gold, silver and bronze award for Fivemiletown speciality cheese including a gold for Ballyblue, one of the first blue cheeses to be developed on the island of Ireland.
The Nantwich Show, renowned as one of the most important and competitive events for cheese producers, and the top one day agricultural show in the UK, aims to recognise and reward the very best of cheese makers from around the world.

“Dale Farm has been investing heavily in recent years to develop its cheese business and for our products to win 17 awards at one of the leading international cheese shows is an excellent achievement,” said David Dobbin, Dale Farm Group’s Chief Executive.

In May 2014, Dale Farm purchased the Fivemiletown speciality cheese business, adding products such as Ballybrie, Boilíe and Ballyoak to the existing Dale Farm cheese portfolio.

“Fivemiletown cheeses are a major recent addition to our product portfolio and having rescued the business from closure only two months ago, it is encouraging to see the craft and quality of our cheese makers in Fivemiletown being recognised as best in class,” continued David Dobbin.

“At every stage of our supply chain, our focus is on quality – from sourcing red tractor certified milk from local family farms to investing in making our cheese making facilities amongst the very best in Europe.”

“These awards are a seal of approval for consumers and important recognition for our dairy farmer members, cheese making team and employees across the business,” David said.


10th July 2014

Announcing results for its financial year ending March 31st 2014, United Dairy Farmers Coop revealed that overall sales in Dale Farm grew by 30% to £293 million with consumer product sales up 15% to £168 million and food ingredients sales up by over 80% to almost £100 million. Helped by strong demand from international markets, especially in Russia and China, Dale Farm’s total exports grew to £102 million.

United paid its highest ever milk prices to members in the year with Dale Farm now processing over 80% of United’s members’ milk and helping generate a record price, especially through its Red Tractor bonus scheme which now accounts for the majority of United’s milk pool. The average milk prices paid to members in Northern Ireland increased by 7.2 pence per litre to an average of 32.9 pence per litre and members benefited from not only Dale Farm Red Tractor bonuses but also a reduction in the butterfat base for milk payments.

The Group’s results for the year ending March 31st 2014, show turnover up by £25 million to £443 million, largely as a result of exceptional growth in the Dale Farm business and a strong performance from United Feeds, the Group’s other manufacturing business which saw sales turnover grow by 10% to £52.7 million. Group operating profit in the year at £7.39 million was up over 40% on the previous year.

Commenting on the results Chief Executive, David Dobbin said that the company’s ambitious growth strategy was starting to pay off and that performance was helped by strong international markets and the company’s major investment in cheese and whey processing – “We saw strong growth across all our businesses with cheddar and butter consumer products both delivering strong growth and increased share of the GB market and our exports of cheese, whey proteins and specialised powder ingredients also growing strongly.”

Dale Farm’s strong sales performance came on the back of its £39 million investment programme which was completed in during 2013 with a spend of £8.9 million in the year. A significant proportion of the investment was at the Dunmanbridge operation in Cookstown, where a new state of the art cheddar cheese and nano filtration whey processing facility was completed during the summer of 2013. This additional capacity proved extremely useful in helping to handle the record NI milk production this spring.

During the year Dale Farm purchased the Mullins Ice Cream business in Kilrea in April 2013 and the Ash Manor Cheese Company in Wrexham in February 2014. Both businesses have complimented Dale Farm’s existing activities. In May this year Dale Farm also purchased Fivemiletown speciality cheese business.

Reporting on the first quarter of the new 2014/15 year David Dobbin said that dairy market returns had weakened as a result of exceptionally high milk output this spring and by adverse exchange rates. “Milk supplies have been very high this spring boosted by better weather and by better market returns, the impact of this and of the strong recovery in the value of sterling against the US dollar and Euro is eroding our returns, especially from international markets, which are well down on last year. However Dale Farm’s domestic consumer products businesses are continuing to deliver strong growth and providing international demand remains strong we expect to see export markets stabilise once we pass the European summer. Much will depend on the whether Chinese and Russian market demand remains strong in the months ahead.”

Notes on the results for year ending 31st March 2014:

• United Dairy Farmers Group turnover up 5.9% to £443 million

• Dale Farm turnover up 30% to £293 million with Consumer Product Sales increasing 15% to £168 million and Food Ingredient Sales increasing by 83% to £100 million. Commodity sales declined by 8.9% to £24.6 million.

• United Dairy Farmers Group operating profit increased by 41% to £7.39 million.

• United Dairy Farmers Group Profit before Tax increased by 32.6% to £6.1million.

• Capital Expenditure was £8.9 million in the year.

• The Group’s Nilgosc pension deficit reduced significantly by £8.2 million to £649,000. After allowing for a deferred tax credit of £136,000 the net liability is now reduced to £513,000 compared to £6.8 million last year.

• Group shareholders funds increased by £8.9 million to £47.28 million.


22nd May 2014

Dale Farm has confirmed that it has reached agreement to buy the Fivemiletown cheese brands from Glanbia Ingredients Ireland and reached agreement with Fivemiletown Coop that it will take over the production of speciality local cheese at the Fivemiletown Creamery site securing around 20 jobs.

Commenting on the deal, David Dobbin Dale Farm’s Group Chief Executive said: “We are delighted that we will have been able to ensure that the Fivemiletown range of award winning cheeses will continue to be produced locally. Fivemiletown Creamery has a long established tradition of making excellent local speciality cheeses and we intend to maintain production and invest in developing the brand and its local, national and international customer base. ”

Guy Simpson of the Fivemiletown Creamery Cooperative, said: “This deal will help maintain local jobs in Fivemiletown and the world renowned Fivemiletown cheese brand. While cheddar cheese activity will still cease in a number of months we are extremely pleased that speciality cheese making activities will be now continuing under Dale Farm at our Creamery, this is great news for our local community


15th May 2014

United Chairman, John Dunlop with Quality Award winners Alan & Christina Pinkerton from Ballymoney
Alan Pinkerton from Ballymoney was today named as the overall winner of the 2014 United Dairy Farmers’ Milk Quality Awards – picking up the top prize of £400.

The Awards, sponsored by Ulster Bank, were presented at a special ceremony at Balmoral Show by John Dunlop, Chairman of United Dairy Farmers, Northern Ireland’s largest dairy company and parent of leading food processing business, Dale Farm, and Stephen Hughes – Head of Corporate Banking at Ulster Bank.

The competition was open to all members of United Dairy Farmers and the winners have come from across Northern Ireland. Runner up was Phillip and Barry Meeke from Dromara in Co Down. The competition had separate Sections for Jersey Herds, which was won by William Ferris from Jerrettspass, near Newry, and also for Large Herds, which was won by Mervyn McRoberts from Ballinderry near Lisburn.

“The quality of milk produced by our farmer members’ is superb and is the basis for the many international awards received by Dale Farm for the quality and taste of its products.” said United Chairman, John Dunlop. “The Quality Awards that we have presented today recognise the management expertise that goes into producing excellent quality milk day in, day out on United members’ farms.”

John continued, “The milk from the Pinkerton farm was first class and an excellent example of the first-rate management which is practiced on local dairy farms. Alan runs a progressive herd of approximately 100 Holstein Friesian cows and in addition to producing milk with excellent butterfat and protein levels , also achieved exceptionally low bactocount, and somatic cell count levels, averaging just 11 and 80 thousand cells per ml respectively).

“Like many of the winners Alan’s farm is Red Tractor accredited and he milk records his herd through the Dairy Herd Management service. This year he is also a participant in the Dromona Pure Butter scheme, producing milk that will be used for Dale Farm’s spreadable butter programme,” said John.

Cormac McKervey of Ulster Bank, who was also one of the judges, added, “The Ulster Bank is delighted to be associated with these awards and to join with United Dairy Farmers in showing our support for the dairy industry and for the excellent work that goes into producing top quality milk on our farms – work that is often taken for granted.”

“I want to congratulate each of the winners for the superb quality of their milk, which is a reflection of their management ability and the attention to detail on their farms,” said Cormac.

The Milk Quality Awards were based on the average test results for 2013/14 for all United Dairy Farmers members. The Awards took into account the compositional quality of the milk (its protein and butterfat content), its hygienic quality as measured by the bactocount of the milk, and its Somatic Cell Count, and the winners were those with the best quality across this range of different tests.

The competition winners were
Overall Winner: Alan Pinkerton, Ballymoney, Co Antrim
Runner Up: Philip & Barry Meeke, Dromara, Co Down
Highly Commended: David Thompson, Castlederg, Co Tyrone

Large Herds Section
Winner: Mervyn McRoberts, Ballinderry , Co Antrim
Runner-up: Peter, Una and Conleth Merron, Portaferry, Co Down
Highly Commended: Brian McAuley, Donaghadee, Co Down

Jersey Herds Section
Winner: William Ferris, Jerrettspass, Co Down
Highly Commended: Anthony Greene Derrygonelly, Co Fermanagh.


4th February 2014

Dale Farm has further boosted its growing British market presence with the purchase of the Ash Manor Cheese business based at Wrexham, North Wales, for an undisclosed sum. Ash Manor Cheese has an established cheese grating, slicing and packing operation which will give Dale Farm another GB outlet for its cheese. It will also complement Dale Farm’s existing cheese packing facility at Dunmanbridge, Cookstown, which is already close to being full in spite of a recent investment in additional packing capacity.

Commenting on the deal, Dale Farm’s Group Chief Executive, David Dobbin, said:
“This investment in Ash Manor Cheese complements Dale Farm’s recent investment in its cheese processing facilities at Dunmanbridge giving us a well established cheese packing business with good potential for further growth. The business will continue to trade as Ash Manor Cheese, with its management team being retained.”

Ian Hutton, Chairman and founder of Ash Manor Cheese, said:
“We are delighted with this deal, which makes good sense for both Ash Manor Cheese and Dale Farm; giving Dale Farm an established outlet for its cheese and securing the long term future of Ash Manor Cheese as part of a large and rapidly growing UK dairy business.”


• Established in 1989, Ash Manor Cheese is a privately owned company, which adds value to cheese by grating, slicing, shaving, dicing and crumbing, producing products for a GB customer base in the retail, foodservice and ingredients sectors.
• Ash Manor Cheese does not make any cheese itself, but buys in cheese from a range of cheese companies which it further processes.
• This acquisition now gives Dale Farm 7 dairy manufacturing operations in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.