Lakeland Dairies has temporarily laid off 140 staff due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the global economy.
It is understood that there are no permanent redundancies.
The plan is said to have been ‘agreed’ with employees, and it will include staff using up portions of their annual leave and short-time working, as well as the temporary layoffs.
The Lakeland Dairies plant at Killeshandra, which manufactures UHT, butter and ice cream, will be the one most impacted by the lay off plan.
Just last week, and also in response to the impact of Covid-19 on dairy markets, Lakeland Dairies announced that it was to cut the price it pays farmers for milk.
In the Republic of Ireland, a price of 30c/L (including VAT and lactose bonus) will be paid for milk supplied in March, a reduction of 1.81c/L on the February base price.
In Northern Ireland, a base price of 23.75p/L will be paid for March milk, down 1.5p/L.
In a statement, Lakeland Dairies said Covid-19 is having a dramatic impact on the dairy markets.
“As the COVID-19 pandemic has continued across the globe the global dairy markets have collapsed.
“The food service sector across Europe has suffered near wipe-out following the closure of restaurants, cafes, hotels, while airlines have grounded many planes. Food service is an important route to market for Lakeland Dairies and many dairy processors across Europe.
“Closer to home, sales of fresh milk and butter in retail outlets have increased somewhat but this increase has not offset the drop off in sales in the food service market.
“Reports from the UK and the USA where farmers have been forced to dump milk as a result of a fall off in demand, mainly in the food service sector, has had a serious negative impact on the market
“The markets are difficult at present and Lakeland Dairies will continue to monitor developments closely in the coming days and weeks.”