Wednesday 12 December 2018

Say cheese - and pizza - as Ireland wins five big food projects

Enterprise Ireland Logo
Enterprise Ireland Logo

Kevin Buckley

Enterprise Ireland has secured five new foreign direct investments (FDI) for significant food projects so far this year, bringing approximately €300m in valuable investments to regional locations, with the creation of 280 new jobs.

These projects were secured against strong competition from other countries.

Many factors drove Ireland's success, not least the joined-up thinking that supports the growth of our food industry and the supply of high-quality raw materials.

In addition, Ireland offers a strong food-technology and research infrastructure.

Enterprise Ireland has the remit to attract FDI from the global food industry into Ireland.

Within that portfolio, there are around 60 multinational corporations, employing over 10,000 people. These companies account for exports in the region of €4bn a year, or 35-40pc of all food exports.

In recent years, extra resources have been invested in projects from companies in the global food industry that do not yet have a presence in Ireland.

Attracting new organisations is a huge challenge in a competitive market and projects can take many years to land.

Enterprise Ireland also works intensively with multinationals to expand their operations - by, for example, adding new functions such as R&D, or extra production capacity to an existing location.

Food FDI is of great economic importance, as it generally results in the purchase of large quantities of raw materials locally, with the effect of supporting jobs in primary production in Ireland.

This is particularly true of the new projects secured this year, each of which was based on additional manufacturing capacity and involved no overseas job losses.

Glanbia Cheese, a joint venture between US company Leprino Foods and Glanbia, is constructing a mozzarella plant in Portlaoise, Co Laois, with a production capacity of 45,000 tonnes a year. It will be the most sophisticated cheese plant in the world and the largest mozzarella plant in Europe. Not only is this €130m investment creating 78 jobs, each kilo of cheese requires 10 litres of milk and so the plant will also support thousands of Irish dairy farms.

Norway's largest dairy company, Tine, is building Ireland's first cheese wheel manufacturing facility in partnership with Dairygold. Tine will produce its proprietary Jarlsberg cheese at the 25,000-tonne facility to be located beside Dairygold's plant in Mogeely, Co Cork.

Two of the other new food FDI projects secured this year show how important Ireland's membership of the EU is to companies on a strong growth path.

Crust & Crumb, a UK manufacturer of chilled pizzas, pizza bases and flat breads, is building a new state-of-the-art factory in Ballyconnell, Co Cavan. The company describes the new €5m project as essential to its survival after Brexit.

Since announcing the expansion in Cavan, Crust & Crumb has succeeded in attracting around €6m in orders as a result of its new EU presence. The facility is expected to be operational by December and will employ around 80 people.

UK dairy nutrition company Volac is investing €3.3m in a new purpose-built finishing and packing facility in Mullagh, Co Meath, to produce milk replacers in Ireland. Volac has strong ambitions to double its turnover internationally and reach £200m (€228m) in the next five years. Using Irish raw materials, the new facility in Mullagh will enable Volac to meet the growing needs of milk replacer customers in the domestic and overseas markets. All the calf milk replacer used in Ireland is currently imported. The project will create up to 16 high-quality manufacturing jobs.

This year has been exceptionally good for food FDI so far. Enterprise Ireland's team of five in the Food FDI division are working to maintain this momentum. The pipeline of new projects from around the world, including China, looks just as promising as the success enjoyed to date.

  • Kevin Buckley is manager of European Food FDI at Enterprise Ireland

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