Lakeland Dairies has announced major changes to its milk pricing model in NI with all suppliers moving to an A+B-C payment model by 1 January 2026.

The change comes after an extensive review of its current payment system and consultation with over 100 regional committee members. That process showed most were in favour of a switch to a payment based on milk solids, but also that the co-op must continue to support higher volume suppliers and winter milk.

As a result, volume and out-of-season bonuses will be retained in NI following the switch to A+B-C, with the traditional 3p/l bonus in November and December to also be paid in January and February each year.


Changes to the Lakeland pricing model are being made in stages, starting from 1 July 2024, when amendments can be made to the current enhanced payment system introduced in January 2023.

Under this model, farmers selected a reference year for butterfat and protein between 2018 and 2020. For every increment produced above those reference values, Lakeland paid an “enhanced” rate for these solids.

While the initiative has added around 0.3 to 0.35p/l to the overall Lakeland monthly pay-out, it has generally not favoured farmers who were already producing high solids. From 1 July 2024 they can remove the reference year.

Farmers opting to do so will be paid the “enhanced” rates of 0.029p/l on butterfat for every 0.01% increment above the co-op’s base of 3.85%. Protein is paid at 0.056% for every 0.01% above the co-op base of 3.19%.


In addition, Lakeland is gradually aligning penalties for low milk quality (SCC / TBC / Thermodurics) across Ireland, with NI suppliers “a bit behind” ROI counterparts.

The co-op estimates that around 10% of the NI milk pool might be impacted, but point out that time is being given to address any issues. From 1 September 2024, 50% of the quality penalty changes will be introduced, with the second 50% applying from 1 July 2025.


The next significant landmark is 1 January 2025, when farmers can move to the A+B-C model, or continue with the current payment model for a further 12 months.

However, Lakeland will raise its base fat and protein values from 3.85% and 3.19% to 3.90% and 3.22% respectively on this date. The co-op expects most high solids producers to switch to A+B-C in 2025, despite the changes made to the enhanced payment scheme.

All suppliers will be moved to A+B-C on 1 January 2026. The base levels used when quoting a milk price will rise to 3.95% butterfat and 3.25% protein from this date.

To assist farmers in working out their options, Lakeland will be running clinics in late May and early June, where one-to-one advice will be available.