New €21m Glanbia plant opens in Kilkenny
THE AGRIFOOD sector was forgotten about when construction was booming during the Celtic Tiger years but can be central to rebuilding the Irish economy, the Minister for the Environment, Phil Hogan, said yesterday.
Opening a new €21 million whey protein isolate plant at Glanbia Dairy Ingredients’ base at Ballyragget, Co Kilkenny, Mr Hogan said agriculture and food were “synonymous with positivity” in Ireland.
“We forgot that for a little bit of time when the construction industry was roaring ahead,” he said, adding that although construction was no longer booming, “the agriculture industry is still with us”, welcoming Glanbia’s decision to invest in innovation and value-added technologies.
Glanbia Dairy Ingredients Ireland employs 320 people at its Ballyragget facility and a further 70 will be employed if a new joint venture is approved by co-op/farmer shareholders and Glanbia plc.
Farmer shareholders will vote on the plan on November 13th, and if the move gets the go-ahead, the joint venture company will be 60 per cent owned by the Glanbia Co-operative Society Ltd and 40 per cent owned by Glanbia plc.
The ingredients giant will then proceed with the construction of a new facility at Waterford port in Belview in south Co Kilkenny.
Mr Hogan said November 13th was “a very important day” for the Glanbia organisation as there was an opportunity for a €500 million investment “if people decide to go down that route”, with opportunities for farmers and those connected with the industry.
The Minister said he was delighted on a recent trade mission to China to see Glanbia products were being sold in that market. “That’s going to be a huge opportunity [in China]. They want to have products that are safe, products that are sustainable. I’ve no doubt that Glanbia and Kerry Foods will be to the forefront in selling their products and their production there.”
He commended Glanbia Dairy Ingredients Ireland on its “leadership”, which was proof “that the food sector can be central to rebuilding the Irish economy”.
Glanbia yesterday released details of an economic assessment undertaken by Ernst Young that predicts an annual €510 million boost by 2020 as a result of the organisation’s planned milk expansion, following the abolition of EU milk quotas in 2015.
According to the Minister, planning for the post-quota agricultural world is important for the Government and the sector, “and to do so in an environmentally sustainable way”.
Chief executive of Glanbia Dairy Ingredients Ireland Jim Bergin said the expansion plans would create “substantial employment” and economic and export dividends. However, those plans required the support of a majority of co-op members in the November 13th vote, he said.
“If approved, the planned €180 million investment at Belview and existing facilities will support on- farm growth and will provide a major boost locally and nationally.”
The plant opened yesterday uses a micro-filtering system to produce a high-purity dairy protein that can be exported for use in applications such as the sports supplements, and infant and clinical nutrition.