Glanbia launches UHT milk in China under Irish Avonmore brand
Irish Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Simon Coveney, joined Glanbia CEO, Siobhan Talbot, in Shanghai last week to unveil the dairy's one litre carton of ultra-heat treated (UHT) Avonmore milk.
Just days earlier the Irish Dairy Board (IDB) launched its own UHT milk product in China under its Kerrygold brand and set its sights on securing a top three position in the Chinese premium imported milk category.
Despite Avonmore controlling the largest share of the €564.8m (US$703m) Irish drinking milk market (Source: Euromonitor), Glanbia has refrained from setting itself a similar target at such an early stage.
“The market for imported milk is growing rapidly in China,” Michael McArdle, commercial director for consumer foods, Glanbia, told DairyReporter.com.
“The first shipment arrived in the first week of October. The feedback we've had has been very positive to date."
"But it is very early days, so it is hard to say how things will develop," he said.
The Avonmore UHT milk on sale in China is processed using Irish milk at a newly constructed facility at Glanbia's Lough Egish site in County Monaghan.
The 100m litre capacity milk processing plant, the first to be constructed in Ireland for around 30 years, began operations in April 2014.
By May, one litre cartons of UHT milk from the plant were being shipped to various markets.
"We have already shipped products to France, Malta, Libya, and now China," said McArdle.
Now, less than a year since plans for the facility were first announced in December 2013, Glanbia is already planning to expand the variety of long-life items produced at Lough Egish.
"At the moment it is just one litre cartons," said McArdle. "But next year we hope to extend that to half-litre milk cartons and cream."
"Our plan is to continue to innovate."
Grass to glass
MilkMore, Glanbia’s Chinese distributor, began delivering cartons stores in Shanghai and surrounding provinces in the first week of October.
The Shanghai-based distributor and retailer of dairy products, will distributed Avonmore UHT milk to supermarkets, milk shops, and small stores, online retail platforms, and even TV shopping channels.
Through its partnership with MilkMore, Glanbia hopes to provide peace of mind to quality-conscious Chinese customers and consumers.
“At Glanbia we pride ourselves on our full traceability from grass to glass,” said Talbot.
“By partnering with MilkMore, Glanbia can also guarantee Chinese customers and consumer full traceability from farms in Ireland directly to glasses in China,” she added.