Dairy is an essential part of billions of people’s diets.
From milk to butter, yoghurt to ice cream, it is consumed in a tremendous number of ways all over the world, and although modern dairy farming began in the early 1900s, humans have been drinking milk from cows for thousands of years.
Today, it is big business. Valued at $442 billion worldwide, the dairy industry is forecast to continue expanding at an annual rate of around two percent in the coming years.
Europe is one of the keenest consuming regions. Last year EU countries between them consumed more than 33 million metric tonnes of milk alone, more than the United States and second only to India.
“The dairy industry in general terms has been going from strength to strength in recent times,” comments Niall Kiely, Chief Operating Officer at Irish milk management solutions firm AgrosMilk.
“I think many dairy companies have diversified their product range quite cleverly, particularly over the last 10 years or so. Gone are the days where a dairy company just produces milk and cheese – unless it is a specialised supplier. This has been a major move in the sector and insulates companies from possible weaknesses in future sales.”
A more complex and diverse industry than ever before, Kiely is also aware of challenges faced by European producers and their suppliers, none more so than the ongoing process of the UK’s departure from the European Union.
“Of course, the greatest risk right now to UK and Ireland companies is Brexit,” he continues. “Nobody knows the exact details or repercussions of Brexit right now, however, overall I’m a firm believer in the glass being half full.
“Whilst there is great risk, there is also great opportunity and any Brexit fallout will demand a trade deal to allow companies to continue grow and flourish.”
Keeping abreast of technological advances is one way to mitigate against risk and open up new opportunities, something which AgrosMilk has been advancing ever since it set up 35 years ago. The company’s raison d'etre is simple – to allow dairy companies to pay their suppliers accurately and on time.
Not only is this vital for farmers who often have to operate with tight margins, it is also critical to larger corporates and dairy producers who rely on attracting suppliers to maintain their very existence.
Although a simple sounding mission in theory, Kiely unravels some of the complexity behind it.
“First and foremost, AgrosMilk helps dairy companies ensure control and governance over payments to its suppliers,” he says.
“It provides key reporting and analytics to ensure that the payments made are accurate and timely. There are numerous factors across volume and quality of dairy supply which determine the price per litre of produce. These are often quite complex and demanding and need to be reconciled each and every period.
“AgrosMilk reduces this complexity by automating the rules that govern payment and securely transfers funds to the supplier’s chosen location.”
Keeping up with emerging technologies has been critical, the company able to deliver real-time information via its supplier portal that houses online statements, quality and collection results, and full membership records, among other important details.
For Kiely, this innovation-driven way of doing business is what lured him to the company in the first place.
“When I was approached about the role, I deemed it a perfect fit,” he says. “Given the client rapport that was built over many years and the niche market that it’s in, I was really enthused about where the company could go.
“The advent of new technologies leveraged mainly through cloud advances meant that we could reach a global market whilst maintaining excellence in product and service. The combination of growth and ability to deliver quality to our growing client base was a key factor in me joining.”
Such a client base now translates into 115,000 registered users across most of Western Europe, what the COO describes as the heartland of dairy produce, a claim backed up by the fact that Germany, France, the UK and the Netherlands make up the top four EU producers of cow’s milk.
And the region as a whole looks set to play a leading role on the world dairy stage in the future, the European Commission predicting that by 2030 the EU could supply close to 35 percent of global demand.
For Kiely, prospects such as this fuel a sense of optimism, the COO concluding by highlight two major priorities for the years ahead. “Agros will continue to grow and invest in its people and product range, as has been its commitment over the last 35 years,” he says.
“By staying aligned to market needs, we aim to enable dairy companies to be as efficient and diligent in its payments to suppliers as possible, and enable suppliers to have on demand access to all data across all platforms and devices.”
AgrosMilk – product portfolio