Ireland’s seasonal challenges

Published 10 August 16

From 2010/11 to 2015/16, milk production in Ireland increased by almost 26%. However, this only tells half the story. Much of the additional milk has been delivered in the spring months, and the seasonal nature of the industry has become more pronounced. The Peak to Trough Ratio (PTR) has increased from 4.7 to 5.7 during this period.

In other words, Ireland produces almost six times as much milk in the peak as it does in the trough. This compares with the UK having a PTR of just 1.2. A ratio that has remained relatively stable.

 Ireland’s seasonal challenges

This means that the Irish processing sector will work significantly harder at certain times of the year as opposed to if volumes were delivered evenly throughout the year. For instance, more than 60% of Ireland’s milk production takes place between April and August. While assuming Irish processors had capacity to process peak production in May 2015, this would mean that capacity utilisation between November 2015 and February 2016 would have averaged less than 30%.

The Irish industry continues to accept, and encourage, seasonal milk production, despite the inefficiencies this can lead to at the processor end. Over the coming week, AHDB will cover how the Irish processing sector copes with this seasonality, and the strategic implications processors need to consider in supporting a predominantly grass-based milk production system.