This time last year, the Irish dairy industry had fears COVID-19 could impact milk processing and cause widespread disruption.

While those fears still exist, the industry has managed to curtail any impact to relatively minor localised global instances. There have of course been shifts in markets, with supermarket sales rising rapidly, while food service sales plummeted.

This week we have seen the GDT price steady after falling for the first time in 18 weeks previously.

The Ornua purchasing price index (PPI) is up to 112.6 for March after a relatively steady three months prior to that.

This converts into a farmgate equivalent of 34c/l ex-VAT at base solids when the Ornua premium is included.

This price hike in the index reflects better returns for butter and powders, which ties in nicely, as most Irish dairy processors are heading for peak milk supply over the coming weeks.

It also reflects the optimism that has been in the market since well before Christmas and the higher milk prices paid in other parts of the world.

All this means that Irish milk suppliers have a legitimate ask to look for a March milk price increase.

The base price comparison for February was just over 32c/litre and now we know the March PPI indicates closer to 34c/litre is available from the market.

As co-op boards meet over the coming 10 days, it is clear a price rise is on the cards – it’s just a question by how much.

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