Ornua opens new €20m cheese plant in Saudi Arabia

As well as supplying Saudi , facility will serve as hub for MidEast and North Africa region

Ornua, the State's largest exporter of dairy products, has opened a new €20 million cheese manufacturing plant in Saudi Arabia, the fifth largest dairy importer in the world.

As well as supplying the Saudi Arabian market, the facility will also serve as a hub for the region where demand for dairy is growing.

Ornua's plant uses technology developed in conjunction with farming agency Teagasc which allows milk ingredients to be recombined for fresh white cheese production.

It will produce a range of bespoke cheeses for the bakery, retail and foodservice sector.


Ornua chief executive Kevin Lane said the Al Wazeen facility provides the business with a new route to market for Irish dairy.

“We now have a manufacturing and trading hub in place to service the high growth dairy market of Saudi Arabia and our growing Middle East and North African customer base,” he said.

Mark Fenelon, head of the Teagasc food research programme, said the plant "marks a new approach to cheese manufacture involving the production of cheeses from reassembled milk without whey expulsion."

The Riyadh plant is the latest in a string of investments by Ornua, formerly the Irish Dairy Board, targeting new routes to market for Irish dairy products in the wake of the lifting of EU milk quotas.

The last 18 months has seen Ornua invest in acquisitions and significant infrastructure development in Africa, China, Germany, Ireland, Spain, the UK and the US.

The opening also comes just weeks after the acquisition of Ambrosia, a dairy facility in Shanghai, China.

Eoin Burke-Kennedy

Eoin Burke-Kennedy

Eoin Burke-Kennedy is Economics Correspondent of The Irish Times