Coca-Cola could put some fizz back into Mallow with new processing plant

Sherlock says sugar factory site would be 'ideal location' for Coca-Cola milk processing plant

The sugar plant closure hit Mallow badly
The sugar plant closure hit Mallow badly

Bill Browne

The future of the former sugar factory site in Mallow has once again come under the spotlight after local TD Séan Sherlock said Coca-Cola could use it for a dairy processing plant. 

The US soft drinks giant has held meetings with Irish dairy industry officials about the possibility of establishing its own Irish milk processing operation in Cork, according to the Corkman.

Five years ago the company launched 'Fairlife', a premium milk brand in the US, part of a strategy to move away from sugary drinks in an attempt to cash in on the growing demand from consumers for healthier drinks. 

The drink, which retails at twice the price of normal milk, is produced using a special filtration process that can significantly reduce sugar content by 30pc and double its nutrient content.  

Speculation is rife that the company, which recently built a multi-million dollar production plant in Canada, is seeking to bring its Fairlife brand to Europe and buy milk directly from Irish farmers. 

It's understood that senior Coca-Cola officials had visited Ireland to learn about our dairy industry, with a particular emphasis on research and development as well as Teagasc's Moorepark research facility in Fermoy and the dairy processing technology centre at the University of Limerick during their fact finding mission.

In a statement the company poured cold water on the issue saying that media reports regarding future investments in Ireland "are purely speculative." 

"As a long-standing and significant investor in Ireland, Coca-Cola has regular discussions with State agencies and partners to discuss different areas of our business, including our ongoing evolution to become a total beverage company," read the statement. 

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Another location to be mentioned in speculations is  the former Kilcorney creamery. However, Deputy Sherlock said that should there be some substance behind the speculation the sugar factory site, which has laid idle since its controversial closure in 2006, would be an ideal location for a milk processing plant. 

"It makes sense given Mallow's dairy dominance traditionally and with all the investment that has taken place at Dairygold coupled with the M20 project, it would be a perfect fit," said Deputy Sherlock. 

"I will be in contact with the IDA to put Mallow on the map with the executives from the US that will have to travel to Cork to look at sites," he added.


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