Two Northern Irish dairy co-ops have struck a deal which will save 20 jobs and retain production of speciality cheeses in County Tyrone.
Dale Farm, part of the United Dairy Farmers Group, a farmer co-operative owned by over 1,900 dairy farmers, has bought the speciality cheese brands at Fivemiletown Creamery, another farmer owned co-operative which had announced its closure earlier this year.
The purchase means production will continue at Fivemiletown’s production facility in County Tyrone, saving 20 jobs. Thirty workers, however, will be made redundant.
Fivemiletown, which dates back to 1898, had come under financial pressure after losing a major contract. This April its milk pool was sold to Glanbia Ingredients Ireland, but the deal did not cover the cheeses, which include the first Irish blue cheese, Ballyblue, and the first smoked brie in Europe, Ballyoak.
David Dobbin, Dale Farm’s group chief executive, said: “We’re delighted that we’ll 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.”
Dale Farm, which operates in the UK and Ireland, distributes dairy products in the UK, Ireland and over 45 other countries.
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’re extremely pleased that speciality cheese making activity will be now continuing under Dale Farm at our Creamery. This is great news for our local community.”