A Northern Ireland dairy processor has been awarded a major contract to supply cheddar cheese to 8,000 Lidl stores across the UK, Europe and the United States.
Dale Farm, with headquarters in Belfast and processing plants in Ballymena and Cookstown in Northern Ireland, has won the contract for the Lidl stores spanning 22 countries. The dairy processor is farmer owned with 1,800 producers and is the largest farmer owned dairy co-operative in the UK, also operating a number of other manufacturing sites on mainland UK.
The supply deal represents the single biggest contract awarded by Lidl to a Northern Ireland agri-food company and will see Dale Farm’s locally-made block cheddars, as well as grated and sliced varieties, hit the shelves across the world.
The contract award means Dale Farm will be Lidl’s main cheddar supplier on a global basis. In turn, the leading retailer now becomes Dale Farm’s biggest cheddar customer.
Liam Casey, commercial director of Lidl Ireland and Northern Ireland, explained that Dale Farm’s product excellence, together with its export capabilities, secured the deal. He said: “We are delighted to expand our Dale Farm partnership with this significant new arrangement to list its world-class, locally-made cheddar right across our UK, Europe and transatlantic store-base. “Dale Farm’s excellent track record on product quality, innovation and provenance, as well as its distribution and export expertise, make it a strong and strategic choice for Lidl as we continue our drive to provide shoppers with the best choice, standard and value for money.”
Lidl’s Northern Ireland director, Conor Boyle, added: “Dale Farm has been a valued and trusted Lidl supplier for many years, and this deal strengthens and secures that relationship for the future. “It is a coup for Dale Farm and for Lidl, allowing us to introduce and showcase this stunningly good Northern Ireland product to our customers around the world.”
Dale Farm produces its multi-award-winning cheese range, using milk supplied by its co-operative members, at its Dunmanbridge plant near Cookstown in County Tyrone.
This Dale Farm cheese is one with many brand names as it will go the on-shelves in Lidl Ireland under the supermarket’s ‘Rathdaragh’ own-brand, in the UK and Europe as ‘Valley Spire’ and ‘Milbona’, and in the Unites States as ‘Preferred Selection’.
Stephen Cameron, Dale Farm group commercial director, said: “Strengthening our long-term global partnership with Lidl is great news for the 1,300 farmers who own the Dale Farm co-operative.
“The scale of this contract is testament to the high standard of milk our farmer owners provide us with to consistently create world-class cheddar cheese. It also demonstrates the continuing strength and sustainability of our farmer owned co-operative business model.”