IDB looking East to fresh markets and are poised to hit the jackpot in Saudi
The Irish Dairy Board (IDB) is poised to make one of its most significant investments in recent times as it carries out due diligence on a major multi-million euro investment in the Saudi Arabian capital of Riyadh.
IDB CEO Kevin Lane (right) sees the Middle East and North African (MENA) market as one of the most promising emerging markets for Irish dairy products at the moment.
"MENA is one of the greatest short-term opportunities for the dairy sector at the moment," he told journalists visiting the Kerrygold butter plant in Germany last week.
"While European dairy consumption is fairly flat at 0-1pc annual growth, growth in MENA markets is closer to 9-11pc," he added.
While Mr Lane was reluctant to specify any details of the deal before the conclusion of the due diligence process, it appears likely that any new investment in processing facilities in the Middle East will focus on capitalising on new product technology that has been developed and commercialised in Teagasc Moorepark.
"For the last 15 months we've had Teagasc researchers working on recombination techniques that will allow us to reconstitute dry milk powders into 'fresh' cheese products," Mr Lane said last week.
Previously, the IDB boss told the Farming Independent that the company was on the verge of launching a type of cream cheese known as Labneh in the Middle East.
"If we get it right, there's a potential market worth hundreds of millions," he said at the time.