Northern Ireland's biggest dairy co-operative Dale Farm has said it's still weighing up "all aspects" of a potential tie-in with cross-border operation LacPatrick.
Dale Farm is staying in the process to join forces with LacPatrick, based in Monaghan - although last week it emerged that Irish food giant Glanbia had backed out.
LacPatrick told farmer shareholders in April, including 700 in border counties of NI, that it was considering a joint venture or merger with another dairy enterprise.
Meanwhile, Japanese giant Mitsui, which has interests in the food sector, has also indicated it's interested in a tie-up with LacPatrick.
According to the website Agriland.ie, Mitsui in Tokyo has made contact with LacPatrick. Co-ops Aurivo, which is based in the west of Ireland, and Lakeland Dairies, based in Cavan, are understood to be still in the running to enter into business with LacPatrick.
Nick Whelan, group chief executive at Dale Farm, said it's "currently in the process of carefully evaluating all aspects of a potential joint venture with LacPatrick".
He added: "Any decision taken in respect to such an opportunity will need to underpin our long-term strategy of supporting our dairy farmers and their future."