New €17m UHT milk plant opened
The second major UHT milk processing plant to be built in the Border area in recent years was officially opened by Glanbia in Monaghan last week.
The €17m development in the county council-owned Lough Egish Food Park has the capacity to process up to 100 million litres of milk annually, making it one of the largest liquid milk processing plants in the country.
Ireland currently processes 570 million of milk into cartons - what is known as the liquid milk trade.
The vast majority of this is sold as fresh chilled milk. However, Glanbia is the second company after Lakeland Dairies to invest heavily in a UHT facility targeting product at far flung locations from South Africa to China.
"We can transport UHT milk as cheaply to China as chilled milk within Ireland," commented Glanbia's consumer foods CEO, Colin Gordon. "Many of the container ships working between China and Europe are returning to China empty, so we are able to take advantage of arbitrage on that."
Mr Gordon said that secret technology would allow the company to produce milk that will have a three month longer shelf life than any of its main competitors.
"We have put a lot of R&D into developing cartons that can withstand heat of up to 50C, and a product that through direct and indirect heating lasts for up to 12 months," said Mr Gordon.
With shipping often taking up to eight weeks to ports in China, followed by another four weeks getting through customs, the extra shelf life of the product builds valuable flexibility into the product for Glanbia.