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Glanbia unveils €21m whey protein isolate plant investment

By Mark Astley , 05-Nov-2012
Last updated on 05-Nov-2012 at 13:12 GMT

DII CEO Jim Bergin, Environmental Minister Phil Hogan, and DII chairman Liam Herlihy at the WPI plant unveiling.
DII CEO Jim Bergin, Environmental Minister Phil Hogan, and DII chairman Liam Herlihy at the WPI plant unveiling.

Glanbia has unveiled a €21m whey protein isolate (WPI) investment at its Dairy Ingredients Ireland (DII) Ballyragget facility – the Irish dairy giant’s latest expansion effort driven by the up-coming milk quota abolition.

The investment was designed in response to growing global demand for WPI, which is typically used in applications including sports and performance nutrition and infant nutritional formulations.

WPI is the purest form of whey protein available – containing around 85% to 95% pure protein. It is extracted through a process called microfiltration, followed by natural concentration and drying processes.

The €21m spent on the WPI facility marks the culmination of a total €107m investment by DII since 2007.

In line with its latest investment, Glanbia commissioned Ernst & Young to undertake an economic assessment of its DII business.

Ernst & Young predicted that Glanbia’s milk expansion plans and those of its suppliers following the European Union (EU) milk quota abolition in 2015 will provide an annual economic boost of €510m by 2020.

Higher economic impact

Earlier this year, Glanbia signed a Memorandum of Understanding with its majority shareholder, Glanbia Co-operative Society Ltd, to form a joint venture in respect of its DII business.

Under the agreement, Glanbia will hold a 40% interest in the business, which will be known as Glanbia Ingredients Ireland (GII), while Glanbia Co-operative Society Ltd will control the remaining 60% share.

A new €180m GII processing facility will be built in Belview, County Kilkenny to meet the increased processing demands created by the milk quota abolition.

Ernst & Young forecasts that the total impact of GII’s expanded production operations on the Irish economy will increase from €1.54bn in 2011 to €2.05bn in 2020.

Direct and indirect employment from the business will also increase by 1,850 full time jobs to 7,500, Ernst & Young added.

“Ernst & Young’s analysis reports that investment by GII and milk suppliers would have a higher economic impact than Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) as all of the volume growth would be exported and because domestically sourced inputs form a significantly larger share of total inputs,” said a Glanbia statement.

“Significant” economic contribution

Irish Minister for Environment, Community and Local Government Phil Hogan officially opened the WPI investment. He applauded Glanbia’s investment and expansion efforts.

“The leadership shown by Glanbia Dairy Ingredients Ireland is further proof that the food sector can be central to rebuilding the Irish economy,” said Hogan.

According to Glanbia DII CEO Jim Bergin, the contribution of farmers and food processors to Irish economic recovery is “significant” – with every €1 investment in Irish dairy expected to generate an economic impact of €2. 

“Glanbia’s milk expansion plans will create substantial employment and a much needed economic and export dividend,” he said.

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