THE new company that runs Glanbia's milk processing business is in talks with Wexford Creamery about extending business between the two sides.
The Irish Independent has learned that Glanbia Ingredients Ireland (GII) and Wexford Milk Producers Limited, which controls Wexford Creamery, are in exclusive negotiations over widening the nature of their partnership.
Wexford and Glanbia have done business with each other for several years, involving milk supplies, cheese manufacturing and supplies of whey protein. Speculation was mounting last night, however, that these latest talks may result in Wexford investing in GII's planned milk processing facility in Belview Port in south Kilkenny.
GII was created late last year as a joint venture between Glanbia Co-op and the food group it part owns, Glanbia PLC.
Under the terms of the deal the company will build a new milk processing facility at Belview Port to cater for an expansion in milk production by farmers after EU quotas are removed in 2015.
There have been worries about how that plant will be financed, however, with concerns about the amount of debt the new company may take on. Any investment by Wexford would ease that burden considerably.
Wexford Creamery produces a range of cheeses for the Irish and British markets, as well supplying milk and fresh cream products across the south east. It has an annual turnover of about €60m.
If the deal goes through it may not be the last partnership to be agreed between Glanbia and another milk producer.
Last year talks with Dairygold about combining milk processing operations foundered, but they could be revived as well.
A Glanbia spokesman declined to comment, as did a spokesman for Wexford Milk Producers.