Carbery Group enters global mozzarella market as revenue hits €460m
Cork-based dairy group opens new production plant at Ballineen campus
Carbery is the first major food player here to enter into the global mozzarella market. Photograph: Giampiero Sposito/Reuters
While restrictions here and abroad hit demand from the food service sector, the dairy group benefited from a strong pick-up in retail, which increased demand for cheddar overall.
Carbery also began exporting mozzarella cheese for the first time, the first major food player here to enter into the global mozzarella market, estimated to be worth $22 billion (€18 billion).
Last year it opened a new €78 million mozzarella-production plant at its Ballineen campus in west Cork, diversifying its traditional focus on cheddar cheese, which is heavily reliant on the UK market.
Despite the disruption from Covid-19, Carbery, which is owned by four co-ops and employs more than 600 staff, said it processed a record 596 million litres of milk in 2020, an increase of 5 per cent on 2019 volumes.
That represents growth of close to 50 per cent from 2015, the year EU milk quotas were lifted.
Carbery makes Dubliner Cheese for the Irish market as well as cheese for export under the Ornua brands. It produced 55,000 tonnes of cheese last year.
“Countering the decline of food service, retail demand was very strong throughout the pandemic, which can be seen through the increased demand for cheddar overall and in particular for high-quality cheddars which Carbery specialises in producing,” it said.
TJ Sullivan, chairman of Carbery Group, said the positive business results reflected the group’s strong position, but that other factors were also at play.
“The diverse nature of our business has helped us weather what 2020 and Covid-19 brought,” he said.
Chief executive Jason Hawkins said, despite Covid-19 related delays, the group’s expansion project was completed and the new plant is producing mozzarella. “The resilience of our business performance in a challenging year has given us increased confidence in the investment and diversification strategies we have pursued over the last few years,”he said.
“With the challenges of a potential hard Brexit behind us, and our new plant online, as well as the investments we continue to make in our value-added taste and nutrition business segments, I’m confident that we will continue to generate value for the farmers of west Cork.”
On the sustainability front, Carbery said it would continue to work towards a target of becoming carbon neutral by 2035 across all sites through decarbonising existing energy sources. Emissions intensity reduced by 4.8 per cent between 2019 and 2020 despite more product being made, it said.