The dairy landscape in the Republic of Ireland is characterized by pastoral spring-calving systems and a bell-shaped milk production curve. This seasonality at producer level initiates various implications at processor level, such as poor utilization of plant capacity off-peak season, a requirement for seasonal labour management and limited product options in autumn and winter months due to the properties of late-lactation milk. An optimization model was developed to analyze the impact of production seasonality and quota removal on the Irish dairy processing industry in terms of maximum processor gross surplus, the optimum product mix and the marginal values of the milk solids fat, protein and lactose. Processor gross surplus was specified as a function of product sales revenue, less variable costs of collecting and processing raw milk and general overhead (fixed) costs. 5 scenarios with differing milk intake curves were examined whereby a flatter intake curve incurred less monthly variation in the marginal producer milk price, capacity utilization and product mix as well as a higher surplus as compared to more seasonal patterns. However, an isolated consideration of financial indicators at processor level disregards key characteristics of Irish grass-based seasonal milk production and producer-processor interdependencies. It was therefore concluded that a broader modelling approach integrating both the producer and the processor perspectives is desirable for more holistic analysis of sector-wide implications.


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