Lakeland Dairies to create 85 jobs at €40m milk powder plant

Plant to yield 160,000 tonnes of milk powder and 50,000 tonnes of butter annually

Lakeland Dairies chairman Alo Duffy, Minister for Culture Heather Humphreys, Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed and Lakeland chief executive Michael Hanley at the opening of the Bailieboro plant. Photograph: Colm Mahady

Lakeland Dairies chairman Alo Duffy, Minister for Culture Heather Humphreys, Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed and Lakeland chief executive Michael Hanley at the opening of the Bailieboro plant. Photograph: Colm Mahady

 

Cavan-based Lakeland Dairies will create 85 new jobs between now and 2019 after having invested €40 million in a milk powder plant.

The facility in Bailieboro was officially opened on Thursday by Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Michael Creed and is understood to be one of the largest in Europe.

“Notwithstanding challenges on the horizon, amongst which Brexit is obviously paramount, all stakeholders in the Irish dairy sector are well placed to benefit from the current recovery under way,” Mr Creed said.

Commenting on the challenge posed by Brexit, Mr Creed said: “In a sense, the elephant in the room that concerns us is Brexit and I know that it is of particular concern to a company like Lakelands, which operates on a cross-Border basis.

“We have engaged as a Government extensively on this matter with all stakeholders, and in particular in the context of the Border regions – with companies that are operating and straddling the Border, including Lakeland and LacPatrick.

“Over the next five years Ireland will continue to be amongst the world’s fastest-growing dairy producers. The goals that were set in Harvest 22/20, are increasing milk output by 50 per cent and may be reached by year end 2107, with production reaching 7.5 billion litres. ”

New jobs

During the building process more than 180 construction workers were employed. The expanded facility will create 85 new jobs across the Lakeland group between now and 2019.

Lakeland employs 800 people and has 2,400 dairy farmers supplying milk to the co-operative from across 15 counties, north and south. The processing centre at Bailieboro will produce 160,000 tonnes of milk powders and 50,000 tonnes of butter annually.

Michael Hanley, the group chief executive, said the investment would help the company address opportunities in the areas of infant formulas and dairy proteins.

“It is a positive development and it is a competitive development, designed to secure the future of 2,500 Lakeland milk suppliers and their families and for dairy farming in the northern half of Ireland.”

Brexit scenarios

Mr Hanley went on to say that the company’s preparations for various Brexit scenarios were well under way.

“In Lakeland we are planning for all types of post-Brexit scenarios and contingencies – soft Brexit, hard Brexit, cliff-edge Brexit, customs, customs posts, short transition and long transition periods, etc,” Mr Hanley said.

“Overall, we have a major advantage, having dairy-processing sites on both sides of the Border. Our three dairy sites in southern Ireland and our two dairy sites in Northern Ireland will enable us to service different customers from different sites as required and maximise the return to Lakeland milk producers,” he added.

“Rest assured, while we are confident, we are not complacent in relation to Brexit – there is a lot of baloney be be talked yet.”

Mr Hanley also said the investment would help the company address opportunities in the areas of infant formulas and dairy proteins.

“Our strategy is to create long-term competitiveness and sustainability for our milk producers and to meet the long-term needs of our valued customers in the global food industry where we see constant demand for our products.”