Dale Farm reveals production changes

Dale Farm has taken the decision not to renew its lease on the Fivemiletown Creamery site, with plans to relocate staff and Fivemiletown cheese production to its facility at Dromona, Cullybackey.

In May 2014, Dale Farm bought the Fivemiletown speciality cheese brand from Glanbia Ingredients Ireland and reached agreement with Fivemiletown & Brookeborough Co-operative to take over the production of its cheese at the Fivemiletown site.

Dale Farm leased the premises from Fivemiletown & Brookeborough Co-operative and took over employment of its staff.

The lease arrangement with Fivemiletown & Brookeborough Co-operative is due to terminate in 2019 and Dale Farm will not renew this.

A statement said: “Dale Farm is supporting the 18 staff currently employed at the Fivemiletown site by offering transfers to other Dale Farm production locations or, where this is not feasible, securing suitable redundancy packages.”

Dale Farm has stated that following careful consideration, maintaining production of Fivemiletown cheese at the Fivemiletown site was deemed no longer feasible.

The statement continued: “Dale Farm will relocate production of the main lines of our Fivemiletown cheeses to our facility at Dromona Cullybackey. However, the low volume Fivemiletown cheese retail lines will no longer be carried.

“Dale Farm is keen to ensure the Fivemiletown brand remains active in Northern Ireland and will continue to produce Fivemiletown goat’s cheese.”

Production of Fivemiletown cheese at Fivemiletown Creamery will cease in early June 2019.

Commenting on these developments, the DUP’s Member of the European Parliament Diane Dodds said that the Dale Farm announcement will be a blow to the staff and to the local area.

“I welcome the fact that Dale Farm are putting plans in place for the staff and I do hope a satisfactory outcome for all involved can be reached. I have had the pleasure to visit the site in the past and have always been impressed by the awarding winning cheese on offer.

Ulster Unionist MLA Rosemary Barton said: “Once again South Tyrone has been hit by the closure of another factory. This is extremely disappointing news coming less than six months after the ceasing of the precast concrete manufacturing A&G Plant at Ballygawley.

“While Dale Farm are keen to support the 18 staff that will be made redundant and offer them similar positions within Dale Farm, unfortunately these positions are some distance from Fivemiletown.

“I have requested a meeting with Mr Nick Whelan, Group Chief Executive of Dale Farm Ltd, in the near future to discuss the matter in more fully and the options available for the work force.”

Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU) deputy president Victor Chestnutt said that he was disappointed to hear that Dale Farm has taken the decision to close the Fivemiletown Creamery site, adding: “It is, however, reassuring to hear that plans are in place to relocate the staff affected. Farmers have been supplying milk to this site for over 120 years and while it has experienced some turbulence in the past, Dale Farm saved it from its closure in 2014 and has kept it operating for a further 5 years.

“It is also encouraging to hear that Dale Farm are keen to keep the Fivemiletown brand active as it has won many awards over the years.”

The UFU says it will continue to monitor the situation to ensure that their milk suppliers are not affected.