David Dobbin to retire as Dale Farm Group CEO

John Harrison/Harrison Photography
John Harrison/Harrison Photography

Dale Farm has announced that, after 16 years of service, Dr David Dobbin CBE will retire from his role as Group Chief Executive later this year.

The company has confirmed that Nick Whelan has been appointed to the role of Group Chief Executive. Nick joins Dale Farm from Glanbia Ingredients Ireland.

Dr Dobbin will still play an important strategic role in Dale Farm and the wider dairy industry and continue in his roles of Chairman of national dairy trade association, Dairy UK, Chairman of the Northern Ireland Dairy Council as well as continuing to serve as an expert on the EU Agri Markets Task Force and the NI Food Strategy Board.

John Dunlop, Chairman of United Dairy Farmers, commented on the announcement: “The Board would like to thank David for his leadership and sterling contribution to the Group which he has successfully transformed into the UK’s largest dairy cooperative. We wish him the very best in his retirement.”

Dale Farm is the processing arm of United Dairy Farmers, a farmer owned co-op. The business has 1,300 farmer suppliers. Last year (2014/2015) United generated a turnover of £420m. The co-op has seven processing plants, employing a total of 1,000 people. Brands associated with the business include Dale Farm, Dromona, Spelga, Fivemiletown, Rowan Glen, Loseley and Mullins.

Dobbin’s retirement announcement comes at a time when the dairy industry – at farm level - is under extreme economic pressure.

A combination of increasing global production and a reduction in the demand growth for dairy products has led to a significant downturn in international milk prices over the past 18 months.

Dobbin is widely regarded as one of Europe’s leading opinion formers, where dairy related matters are concerned. At a recent ‘dairy volatility’ conference, he made it quite clear that only a downward re-alignment in global milk supplies will bring about the strengthening of market returns, which dairy farmers need to bring their businesses back into profitability.

EU milk quotas, which had capped milk output in Europe for the previous 30 years, were abolished at the end of March 2015. The ensuing 14 months have seen rapid milk output increases across a number of EU member states. These include the Republic of Ireland and the Netherlands.