IRELAND – Ornua, an Irish agri-food cooperative, which markets and sells dairy products has announced the €40 million (US$ 42.88 million) Kerrygold Park facility expansion in Mitchelstown, is in progress and is expected to be completed by March 2023.

In late 2020, the board of Ornua approved the expansion of the existing €38 million (US$40.73 million) facility, which opened in 2016, to facilitate increased levels of manufacturing, packaging, and distribution of its Kerrygold butter products.

Progress on the expansion plan was delayed following an appeal to An Bord Pleanála of the planning approval given by Cork County Council.

That appeal was not upheld and in January 2022, the green light was given again for the project to continue as planned.

The company said the new project will host a bigger facility, with a bigger processing capacity, that will enable it to produce more Kerrygold butter as well as buy more cream from co-ops.

Pre-expansion, the facility had the capacity to produce and package up to 50,000t of butter per annum, while post-expansion the company is expecting the figure to almost double, according to Ornua.

CEO of Ornua, John Jordan said that in 2021, Ornua purchased €1.2 billion (US$1.29 billion) in premium Irish dairy products, and that figure is set to rise in 2022, and beyond.

He added that there is no concern at present about Irish milk production reducing, despite estimates that indicate otherwise.

Jordan stated: “Ornua is not worried about the ability to provide cream or butter into Kerrygold, we think there is plenty of capacity in Ireland to do that and move product up the value chain. Estimates are out that there is a reduced rate of milk growth over the next five to 10 years.”

The figures are compared to the last five to 10 years. Some of that is driven by sustainability, and some of that is just down to farmers having invested and grown their facilities post the abolition of quotas, and there is a natural slowdown in that growth.”

Ornua said the expansion follows its Kerrygold brand volume growth that was up 12% in 2021, compared to 2020, with over 11 million packets of butter and cheese sold globally each week.

The company noted that it is the fastest-selling brand on supermarket shelves in Germany; and is the number-two selling butter brand in the US.

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