Lakeland Dairies has opened its €40m expansion of milk powder operations at its Bailieboro site in Cavan.
According to Lakeland Dairies, the Bailieboro facility is among the most advanced milk powder plants in the world and one of the largest such plants in Europe.
And Lakeland Dairies CEO Michael Hanely said being a large scale processor with best in class products was key to the co-op's market competitiveness.
Hanley said the new facilty, which is Lakeland's third milk drying plant, will allow it to process over 1.2bn litres of milk this year, a considerable amount of which will be converted into 160,000 of milk powders and 50,000t of butter.
This, he said, allows Lakeland great flexibility in milk throughput and overall economies of scale for the food ingredients business.
Hanley also said that the new facility had not cost the co-op's 2,400 dairy farmers.
The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed, said at the official opening that international markets are key to the Irish dairy industry as a global exporter.
Lakeland Chairman Alo Duffy said that demand for dairy products was not enough to keep Irish dairy products in demand, but that such products must be best in class.
The investment has been supported by the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation through Enterprise Ireland. This is creating 85 new jobs across the Lakeland Dairies Group between now and 2019.
With 2,400 dairy farmers supplying milk to the co-operative across 15 counties north and south, Lakeland Dairies now employs over 800 people.
Lakeland now processes over 1.2bn litres of milk annually into 240 dairy foodservice products and food ingredients for export to over 80 countries worldwide.
The expansion saw the installation of a new 7t per hour milk dryer and evaporators where total milk powder production capacity has now increased to 20t per hour.