The value of dairy farming to the rural economy in Laois has been highlighted from new figures released by Glanbia Ireland.
The accounts for 2020 show that the company paid a total of €87 million for milk in the county last year.
Glanbia Ireland say that they have 441 farm families supplying milk in Laois.
This puts Laois fifth of the list of counties in Ireland for where Glanbia paid for milk.
Just farmers in Kilkenny (€192m), Warerford (€161m), Wexford (€136m) and Tipperary (€131m) received more money than those in Laois.
The company delivered a solid performance in 2020 in spite of the global disruption caused by Covid-19.
Revenue for 2020 stood at €1.9 billion, down 2.9%. Of this, a 2.1% drop was caused by volume decline with the balance due to modest price deflation over the period. The company reported profit after tax of €61 million.
There was a sales decline in the Agribusiness part of the business because of very favourable weather conditions, leading to good grass growth and a consequent reduction in demand for both feed and fertiliser.
The domestic foodservice element of the Consumer business was significantly affected by the three lockdowns during much of 2020, but was cushioned by higher retail demand.
The milk price paid by the Group for the year was an average of 35 cent per litre, inclusive of VAT.
Commenting, Glanbia Ireland CEO, Jim Bergin, said: “Covid-19 significantly added to our operational challenges in 2020 but the speed at which the management team acted and adapted to safeguard the health and wellbeing of all was exemplary.
“Keeping milk on the shelves throughout the past year has been exceptionally challenging and tremendous credit goes to everyone who played their part.
“Milk volumes in 2020 increased by 4.9% on a like-for-like basis and the Group paid over €1.083 billion to milk suppliers, an increase of 3.8% on 2019.
“This represents a significant source of income for farm families, for our rural and regional economies and highlights the impact of dairy farming on villages and towns throughout rural Ireland where our suppliers live, work and spend their farm income.
“Investment in our digital platforms paid dividends. These include our fresh doorstep delivery business mymilkman.ie; our agri and gardening input business, Glanbia Connect, and a new business-to-business ingredients trading platform, Glanbia Direct.
“Each recorded significant growth. Customers really turned to trusted brands during the pandemic and this helped boost revenue.
“We have rallied in the face of adverse global as well as domestic conditions, with substantial growth in sales of UHT milk and cream into South East Asia.
“The Truly Grass Fed brand continues to be well-received in the US marketplace with good momentum building as distribution grows.”