Shareholders at troubled creamery Fivemiletown, Co. Tyrone, are meeting tonight to decide on the future of the business.

The co-op is in ‘advanced’ negotiations with Glanbia after entering exclusive negotiations with Glanbia, which is the only offer formally on the table, according to a spokesman.

Tonights meeting will see the Glanbia offer put to shareholders, but no indication is clear yet what way shareholders will vote.

The board has been recommending the Glanbia offer, but whether it formally pushes it tonight remains to be seen.

Milk supply has effectively halved in the last two years to the co-op, which has just 48 suppliers of whom 39 are shareholders. The co-operative has experienced difficult trading conditions, particularly in its core cheddar cheese business, in recent years. This has significantly impacted on the financial viability of the business.

If the Glanbia offer is accepted, Fivemiletown’s 250m litre milk pool could be diverted to the Glanbia processing plant in Virginia, Co Cavan. However, AgriLand has been informed that the staff at Fivemiletown believe that a deal between GIIL and the co-op would also certainly result in them losing their jobs.

Founded in 1898, Fivemiletown manufactures a range of hard, soft, blue, smoked, Irish cheddar, and goats’ cheese. Over the last number of years it has built up a range of international market outlets for its speciality cheeses.

In 2011/12 the company generated a turnover of £24 million. This figure fell by almost 50% the following year, caused – to quite a large extent , by the loss of a supply contract to Kerry Foods.