The Irish Dairy Board (IDB) has opened a new $12 million cheese manufacturing facility in Wisconsin.
The plant is part of the board’s Thiel cheese and ingredients subsidiary and represents the final phase of an $80 million investment programme in the US.
The IDB said the facility would bolster its manufacturing capacity in the US by around 40 per cent and would provide an "important route to market" for its protein product casein.
Through its extensive US customer base, the board hopes the investment will open up further opportunities for Irish dairy products.
The IDB is an agri-food co-operative which markets and sells dairy products on behalf of its members.
The IDB has annualised sales in the region of €2 billion. Headquartered in Dublin, the business employs some 3,100 people globally.
It is responsible for exporting about 60 per cent of Ireland’s dairy products to over 100 countries.
Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney, who is on a week-long trade mission to the US to promote Irish food and drink produce, officially opened the board's new production unit.
"Dairy production in Ireland is on the cusp of a dramatic expansion following the abolition of quotas in 2015," he said.
“The Irish Dairy Board, through this initiative, is helping to build a reputation for the Irish dairy sector in the US, a new and growing market. Based on cutting edge technology, the research and innovation output from this facility can be applied to add value across the entire group.”
IDB chief executive Kevin Lane said: "Today marks the completion of a very significant investment programme by IDB into the US food ingredients market and is in-line with our growth strategy to invest in high growth dairy businesses that deliver strong returns to our members."
“The focus of this investment is on innovation as much as production with our new facility enhancing our ability to create innovative food solutions that meet the evolving needs of our US customer base and their brands.”
The US market is worth over €500 million to Irish agri-food exports.