The Irish dairy processing sector continues to ramp up its preparations for the end of milk quotas with the announcement of an innovation investment of €35 million today. The investment by Government and industry will position Ireland as a world leader in dairy innovation, and help to maximise the long term growth opportunities created by anticipated increase of 50% in the Irish milk pool by 2020.
Announced jointly by Richard Bruton T.D. Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation and Simon Coveney T.D. Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, at Arrabawn Co-Op in Co. Tipperary the investment is in the form of two initiatives:
- A €25 million Dairy Processing Technology Centre (DPTC) supported by the Department of Jobs through Enterprise Ireland and the dairy industry partners which will be hosted by University of Limerick;and a
- €10 million investment by Teagasc and the dairy industry shareholders in the expansion of the Moorepark Technology Ltd (MTL) pilot plant facility in Fermoy Co. Cork.
Of the 10 major dairy companies involved, 7 are investing in both initiatives; Arrabawn Co-op, Aurivo, Carbery, Dairygold, Glanbia, Kerry, and Tipperary Co-Op. Lakeland Dairies is part of the DPTC consortium only. The Irish Dairy Board and North Cork Co-op are investing in MTL. University of Limerick will lead 9 other Research Performing Organisations (RPO's) in the DPTC to deliver the research and technology required creating 52 new jobs for highly-skilled researchers over the 5 year term of the centre.
Launching the Dairy Processing Technology Centre Minister Bruton said: "The food sector is a key area that we have targeted as part of our Action Plan for Jobs. This is a sector which offers massive potential for regional employment, which is a major focus of our 2015 plan, and clearly the removal of milk quotas offers huge opportunities that we must exploit in a planned and strategic way in order to support jobs growth. That is why Minister Coveney and I have decided, through our agencies Enterprise Ireland and Teagasc, to make this significant investment in innovation in the dairy industry. This market focused technology centre supported by my Department will bring industry, the education system and Government together to develop commercial new technologies which will support the growth of the dairy industry here in the coming years. In this way, we can crucially create more jobs across the regions, and ultimately improve communities right across the country".
Announcing the investment of €10 million by Teagasc and industry shareholders to expand and modernise the MTL pilot plant facility Minister Coveney said:
"This is a perfect example of what can be achieved when clear and common policy objectives are supported by coherent action by Government agencies in partnership with industry.
"Investing in product and process innovation makes sense for a host of reasons. It ensures that value is added to high quality raw materials in Ireland and maximises the contribution of the dairy sector to employment creation and the Irish economy generally. It also contributes to improved competitiveness, and helps to mitigate the impact of commodity price volatility on operators along the supply chain, including farmers.
"Ultimately, this kind of investment can build the kind reputation for excellence in all things dairy that creates a platform not only for export growth, but also for inward investment by major global players in the food industry. This exactly the kind of initiative envisaged in Food Harvest 2020 and I am delighted to be associated with it. "
According to Gerry Boyle, Director of Teagasc "MTL now lists among its customers the most progressive companies in the food, food ingredients and nutritional sectors and it is obliged to meet the high expectation of these companies in all aspects of its services. The €10 million investment by its shareholders will future proof MTL and ensure its relevance to all its customers, national and international in the years ahead but most importantly will provide a platform to support the ambitions of the Irish dairy Industry to produce value added foods and ingredients for international markets".
The recently appointed CEO of the DPTC, Padraig McPhillips explained that the DPTC is a collaborative model in which the best research talent in Ireland relevant to industry needs is brought together with the dairy sector to solve strategic research and innovation needs articulated by the sector. "The two key outputs of the DPTC will be knowledge and people - both will be absorbed by the industry and used to deliver more efficient processes and better products and ingredients. The DPTC is like adding a new software engine to the dairy sector", said McPhillips.
The two initiatives announced today are complementary, particularly when it comes to testing the new technologies generated in the DPTC. The companies will need to trial the technologies at a pilot scale to test their potential robustness at commercial scale. The upgraded and expanded MTL pilot plant facility provide the right environment for some of the outputs of DPTC to be tested at a commercial scale and help the transfer of these innovations to industry.
Welcoming the launch of the DPTC, Dan MacSweeney, Chief Executive of Carbery Group and Chairman of the Irish Dairy Industries Association said "The Dairy Processing Technology Centre will be a critical agent in realising the opportunity presented by the abolition of the milk quotas by providing a dedicated public-private partnership investment in a world class dairy processing research and capability centre. The Irish dairy industry recognises the importance of investing in sophisticated, collaborative research and innovation and this is reflected by the involvement of 8 of our primary processors. Cumulatively, the companies who are partners in the DPTC process 85% of Ireland's milk pool, produce €2.5 billion of Ireland's annual dairy exports and provide over 25,000 direct and indirect jobs. It is also reflected in the significant industry contribution of €9 million to the total cost of the initiative – we are serious about making this technology centre work for the Irish dairy industry. We also welcome the complimentary investment in MTL, almost €4million of which is being provided by industry" said Mr. MacSweeney.
According to Professor Mary Shire, VP Research at University of Limerick where the DPTC is hosted, "the DPTC is a collaboration which brings together a spectrum of companies working collaboratively with academics drawn from a wide variety of disciplines. The challenges faced by the Dairy industry require an interdisciplinary approach if they are to be solved. The University of Limerick has experience of successfully leading multi partner interdisciplinary research centres and is delighted to be hosting the DPTC".
Enterprise Ireland funded the DPTC according to Dr. Keith O'Neill, Director of Lifesciences and Food Commercialisation, Enterprise Ireland because "with the anticipated increase of 50% to 2020 in the Irish milk pool, dairy processors need to be supported to deal with the challenges presented including technological capabilities and human resources capacities to develop a product mix that can increase dairy exports while maximising the efficiencies of processing operations. Enterprise Ireland's focus is on increasing exports to create economic growth and the dairy sector, having been underinvested in recent years, will use the knowledge, technologies and skills developed through the DPTC to take on competitors worldwide in the coming years".
"The future is very bright for the Irish dairy industry" concluded Dr. O'Neill.
The Dairy Processing Technology Centre consortium involves 8 companies; Arrabawn Co-op, Aurivo, Carbery, Dairygold, Glanbia, Kerry, Lakeland Dairies and Tipperary Co-Op and 9 Research Providing Organisations; University of Limerick (host) and Teagasc, UCC, UCD, TCBB at NUIG, DCU, TCD, DIT, ITT & CIT.
The Moorepark Technology Ltd shareholding companies are; Arrabawn Co-op, Aurivo, Carbery, Dairygold, Glanbia, the Irish Dairy Board, Kerry, North Cork Co-Op and Tipperary Co-Op.