Kevin Lane was speaking at the opening of a new €12.7m manufacturing facility run by the co-operative's subsidiary Adams Food Ingredients (AFI) for specialist dairy ingredients in Leek, Staffordshire.
The 65,000 sq ft facility will replace an old facility in the town, and includes an innovation centre and forms part of a €70m investment by the IDB within Britain over the past 5 years.
Customised pre-mix solutions
The new plant will strengthen AFI’s hand as a major player within dairy-based food ingredients by – according to the firm – doubling its capacity in this sector to over 20,000 tonnes a year and offering clients both a “wider range of formulations and customised pre-mix solutions”.
AFI said its new on-site innovation centre would also enhance AFI’s ability to add value to dairy ingredients and provide it with the means to develop more advanced specialist applications with food manufacturers.
Vincent Buckley, IDB chairman, emphasised the strategic importance of Britain as a location within which to drive the growth of Irish dairy exports.
He said: “The commissioning of the AFI facilities provides a platform for adding value to Irish dairy exports in the years ahead and will allows us to lead the way in best in class customized ingredients solutions.”
The IDB emphasized that the UK is Ireland’s leading trade partner, and that maintaining a strong market presence within Britain was crucial to driving export growth.
Lane added that the investment would lend the Irish dairy sector further opportunities to meet growing demand amongst food companies for “high quality” dairy ingredients.
He said: “Our purpose built innovation centre allows us to work more closely with food manufacturers in developing specific formulations. This investment underpins our commitment in building routes to market for Irish dairy exports and is in line with our ingredients strategy of adding value.”
International growth ambitions
Staff at AFI’s new plant will work to create customized dairy ingredient solution targeted at customers in both the UK and internationally.
The new facility is adjacent to the AFI's cheese pre-packaging plant in Leek, which began production in 2009 and, with an output of more than 3.5m pre-packaged cheese packets a week – is the largest such facility serving the UK retail sector.
Welcoming the investment, Irish minister of state Shane McEntee identified the British market as one that held “considerable growth potential” for the Irish dairy sector, within the context of industry targets under the government-led agri-food initiative Food Harvest 2020.
In September the IDB also opened an Algerian office, in a bid to develop activities in North Africa and reach a potential new market of around 200m consumers.