Irish Dairy Board: Producers not yet ready for Chinese market
The head of the Irish Dairy Board (IDB) says producers here aren't yet ready to service the Chinese market, after reporting sales up 5.5pc at €1.2bn.
IDB chief executive Kevin Lane said China is a "significant medium-term opportunity" for Ireland.
The IDB had commenced a search in China for "possible acquisitions", he said.
But he admitted that existing Irish dairy produce would have a "zero chance of success" in the massive Chinese market. Speaking to the press at the announcement of the results yesterday, he said that "tailoring" produce to local tastes would be essential for Ireland to significantly expand dairy sale to the Asian giant.
"I just came back from there (China) 10 days ago and I will tell you what the Chinese consumer is looking for is not the dairy products that are manufactured in Ireland today," Mr Lane insisted.
He said there was a good opportunity for (milk) powders, "provided they are done to the right standard". Local tastes also provided opportunities for "dairy-based beverages" and "spreadable cheeses".
The abolition of milk quotas next year presents a big opportunity for expansion, he added. The group has announced plans to create 50 new jobs in Co Cork, as part of a €30m investment in a Mitchelstown production facility which should ramp up production capacity.
A surge in sales of Kerrygold helped the IDB to almost double its profits last year, the company's latest results show.