Wexford boost as Glanbia pumps €35million into expansion

By David tucker

Published 24/02/2016 | 00:00

At the announcement of the Glanbia plant expansion : John Murphy (Glanbia Director),Tom Lonergan (Plant Manager), Eamon Power (Glanbia Director), Alan Simmons (Chairman, Wexford Milk Producers) and Joe Kehoe (Farm Developement Manager).
At the announcement of the Glanbia plant expansion : John Murphy (Glanbia Director),Tom Lonergan (Plant Manager), Eamon Power (Glanbia Director), Alan Simmons (Chairman, Wexford Milk Producers) and Joe Kehoe (Farm Developement Manager).

Glanbia Ingredients Ireland (GII) is planning to spend €35 million on a major expansion at its Wexford cheese plant which will double peak milk processing capacity at the plant and secure the jobs of the 48 people working there.

The proposed €35m investment is supported by Enterprise Ireland and will sustain a large number of indirect jobs in the local economy as well as generating 60 to 70 jobs during the construction phase.

If planning approval is secured, plant works would commence in the fourth quarter of 2016 and are scheduled for completion in Spring 2017.

Glanbia acquired Wexford Creamery in May 2014. At its peak Wexford Creamery employed 120 people. During 2015, the plant at Rocklands produced almost 20,000 tonnes of high quality cheddar cheese, as well as a valuable stream of high quality whey for further processing at GIanbia's Ballyragget, Co Kilkenny facility.

Jim Bergin, chief executive of Glanbia Ingredients Ireland (GII), said the proposed investment is a tremendous vote of confidence in the staff at the Wexford plant, which produced record volumes of cheese in 2015. 'Our milk suppliers in Wexford are amongst the fastest growing and most progressive in the Glanbia catchment area. This investment will also enable further growth in our highly popular Wexford Cheese brand, which is being marketed in Ireland, the UK, the USA and, most recently, the Middle East.'

In the 10 months since milk quota abolition last April, milk supply from GII's 4,800 farmer suppliers has grown by 22 per cent. In 2015, across its four Irish milk processing locations, the company processed in excess of two billion litres of milk for the first time.

Minister Brendan Howlin said the significant investment of €35m is supported by Enterprise Ireland and will be a further boost to Wexford's milk suppliers. 'The Wexford plant produced record volumes of cheese in 2015, demonstrating that this is a key growth area,' he said.

Henry Corbally, chairman of GII said: 'This latest investment is part of Glanbia's commitment to meet the growth ambitions of our milk suppliers. In the past three years, GII has invested €235m at the company's milk processing plants at Virginia (Co Cavan), Ballyragget and Belview (Co Kilkenny).

'As well as increasing GII's cheese processing capacity, the Wexford investment will deliver an additional whey stream for the sports nutrition sector, which is one of Glanbia's key market sectors.'

ICOS National Dairy Committee Chairman Jerry Long described the investment as a strong demonstration by GIIL of their confidence in the sector and their commitment to their supplier member base, particularly in Wexford. 'There is no doubt that dairy markets are in a very difficult place, and the outlook for 2016 is not very positive. Nonetheless markets will improve and we must be in a position to capitalise on the upturn when it comes.'

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