Dairies plan to add value as quotas end

€35m investment in dairy innovation as sector prepares for post-quota scenario

Opening a new dairy processing technology centre is like adding a new software engine to the dairy sector,

Pádraig McPhillips, chief executive of a new €25 million facility in Limerick, has said.

The new centre, which is based at the University of Limerick, is the latest of 15 technology centres funded by the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation through Enterprise Ireland.

Some 52 research jobs are expected to be created at the facility. Eight dairy processors are partners in the centre and together they account for 85 per cent of the State’s total milk pool.

The announcement was made at Nenagh-based Arrabawn Co-op, one of the eight processors.

Partners

The other partners are:

Aurivo

,

Carbery

,

Dairygold

,

Glanbia

,

Kerry

,

Tipperary Co-Op

and

Lakeland Dairies

.

Arrabawn chief executive Conor Ryan said it was another key piece in the co-op's growth plans as it prepared for the ending of the milk quota regime on March 31st.

Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers Association (ICMSA) president John Comer welcomed the investment and said his organisation had been very critical of UL's reluctance to engage with the farming and agri-food sector in the past.

He said the ICMSA had urged UL to involve itself in this area more than two years ago because dairying was of such importance to the university’s hinterland.

An investment of €10 million has also been announced for Moorepark Technology Ltd, a partnership between Teagasc and dairy processors. The centre in Fermoy, Co Cork provides facilities to the industry for new product development and scale-up. The dairy shareholders are Arrabawn, Aurivo, Carbery, Dairygold, Glanbia, the Irish Dairy Board, Kerry, North Cork Co-Op and Tipperary Co-Op.

Progressive

Teagasc director Prof

Gerry Boyle

said some of the most progressive companies in the world were customers of Moorepark.

The investment would ensure its relevance to these companies “but most importantly will provide a platform to support the ambitions of the Irish dairy industry to produce value-added foods and ingredients for international markets”.

The announcement of the two investments was made by Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney, and Minister for Enterprise Richard Bruton.

Mr Coveney said the combined €35 million investment would ensure that value was added to high quality raw materials before export and would maximise the contribution of the dairy sector to employment creation.

“It also contributes to improved competitiveness, and helps to mitigate the impact of commodity price volatility on operators along the supply chain, including farmers.”

Mr Bruton said the food sector was a key focus of the Government’s action plan for jobs.