The Irish government has issued grants worth $155 million to dairy specialists like Kerry, Carberry and Glanbia to promote dairy development including protein fractions and other dairy ingredients and position Ireland as a world leader in dairy development.
Nineteen projects have been instigated under the Dairy Investment Fund including two grants totalling about $25 million to Glanbia to enhance its value-added cheese and specialty protein capabilities and to improve its whey concentrate production.
Carberry received just over $4 million to work on a functional dairy powder project, while Kerry Ingredients' demineralised whey project was awarded $13.36 million. Glenisk received $4 million to boost organic milk and yoghurt output.
Companies receiving grants had to pass strict commercial and technical criteria as established by a committee comprised of members from Enterprise Ireland, the Department of Agriculture and Food, the Irish Food Board, the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment and private industry, plus an independent nutrition expert.
Irish Food Minister Mary Coughlan said the scheme was intended to increase the production of value-added products, stimulate investment, assist Irish companies develop new international markets and guarantee long-term industry competitiveness.
"With continued vision and leadership, the Irish dairy and wider food sector has the potential to become the brand and origin of choice with today's quality-conscious consumer across the globe," said Coughlan.
The European Commission has highlighted whey, cheese and nutrition as growth sectors within the dairy industry. Ireland's functional fresh dairy market is worth about $170 million and growing rapidly with household penetration estimated at 66 per cent — one of the highest in Europe.