With the prospect of quota restrictions being repealed, the Irish government set a target this time last year for the industry to double milk output over the next 10 years.
In preparation, the Irish Dairy Board (IDB) and the government agency Teagasc have struck up a partnership to support research that may increase the value of Irish dairy exports.
They began with development work on cheese in September 2010 and have now decided to formalise the relationship with the creation of a dairy innovation centre at Teagasc Food Research Centre, Moorepark.
The team is currently working on four new cheese product concepts but the long-term ambition is to develop a variety of finished product concepts and dairy ingredients. These product ideas would then be scaled up and sold by IDB internationally.
“It is about marrying the science with the marketing. IDB will bring the marketing expertise and insight to the table it has gained in over 50 years of experience,” said Liam O’Neill, an IDB spokesperson.
Initially, the centre will be located at the existing IDB facilities at the Teagasc Food Research Centre. And the programme will have a full time staff of 5 people, plus 4 Teagasc scientists.
But there are plans for a new innovation centre in Moorepark to support expansion of the programme. Investment for the building work, which is currently at the planning stage, is coming entirely from Teagasc.
O’Neill could not reveal any more details on the timeline for the building work but said it would fuel project expansion plans. He said: “It would lead to an increase over time in staff numbers.”