Glanbia’s New Plant and Ireland’s Rural Recovery

Pictured at the official opening of Glanbia Ingredients Ireland (GII) new plant at Belview, Port of Waterford were, from left. Jim Bergin (GII CEO), An Taoiseach Enda Kenny and EU Commissioner for Agriculture Phil Hogan. 			| Photo: Dylan Vaughan

Pictured at the official opening of Glanbia Ingredients Ireland (GII) new plant at Belview, Port of Waterford were, from left. Jim Bergin (GII CEO), An Taoiseach Enda Kenny and EU Commissioner for Agriculture Phil Hogan. | Photo: Dylan Vaughan

On Thursday last, I was delighted to officially open the Belview facility, which I understand is one of the largest indigenous infrastructure investments made by an Irish company in 80 years.

What is more welcome is the 1,600 jobs that this €150 million plant will support across the economy.

It was fantastic to witness at first hand the huge level of investment by Glanbia Ingredients Ireland.

Last Thursday’s announcement also brings to fruition Jim’s Bergin’s vision, and that of his team, and marks a hugely positive development for Glanbia Ingredients Ireland and for their 4,800 farmer suppliers.

Such investment is a real vote of confidence not just for this area but for Irish agriculture generally, and marks another milestone in the continued expansion of the dairy sector.

I maintain that 2015 will be the year of rural recovery in Ireland because of developments such as this.

Already 2015 has been an historic year for Irish agriculture and this will continue as we enter the final month of milk quotas.

It’s hard to believe that it has been thirty years since this restriction was introduced and I welcome its abolition and the new job and investment opportunities that it will present.

Since becoming Taoiseach I have led trade missions to vital markets such as China, Japan, Europe, the Middle East and the United States.

While on these missions foreign political and business leaders praise the high quality produce that Ireland exports worldwide.

The reputation of Ireland as a food island is growing worldwide. The growing middle classes in these countries are thirsty for quality dairy and hungry for premium beef.

Liam Herlihy (Group Chairman, Glanbia), speaking at last Thursday's opening at Belview.                       | Photos: Dylan Vaughan

Liam Herlihy (Group Chairman, Glanbia), speaking at last Thursday's opening at Belview. | Photos: Dylan Vaughan

I believe the breakthrough in recent weeks of reopening the American and Chinese markets to Irish beef in conjunction to the ending of milk quotas will usher in a new era of sustainable and prolonged growth for Irish agriculture.

In response the Irish Agri-Food sector continues to grow, evolve and adapt, and this is epitomised in last Thursday’s opening at Belview.

I am particularly delighted that the milk products made here will all be for export. It highlights how Irish agriculture has been, and will continue to be, a shining light during the darkest of economic times.

We export 85 per cent of what we produce in the sector and Irish dairy products go to practically every corner of the globe.

In 2014 Ireland exported dairy produce valued at over €3billion and our dairy sector is by a number of measures the country’s largest indigenous industry.

It is our job in Government to continue to open doors abroad for Irish agriculture. We continue to work with the industry to raise the profile of the dairy sector, in emerging markets in the Far East, North Africa, the Gulf States and elsewhere.

Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney has been foremost in leading trade missions to these countries and I know from feedback from industry participants that they have yielded real and profitable opportunities.

In October of last year the Minister lead his second trade mission to China, a market that offers huge potential and which through the combined efforts of producers, industry and Government continues to deliver on that potential.

In 2014 we exported in the region of €400 million in dairy products to China which represents an almost four-fold increase in the period since 2010 and is indicative of the potential inherent to that market in particular.

This is why investments such as here at Belview are so important to the sustainable future for the Irish dairy sector because you provide the essential infrastructure needed to target key markets.

The innovation behind turning the simple product of milk into world class ingredients and consumer products has been the hallmark of the Glanbia story and will undoubtedly continue to support your growth in the future.
As the sector expands, employment opportunities increase. Nothing has an impact on the life of an individual, a family or a community like a new job. That is why this Government has had jobs right at the top of its agenda.

Since we launched our Action Plan for Jobs in 2012, 90,000 jobs have been created. We are well on our way to achieving and beating our target of 100,000 additional jobs by 2016.

This year alone, I want to see 40,000 new jobs created.

This sector has a vital role to play in creating sustainable employment and Glanbia Ingredients Ireland’s contribution in this area is noteworthy.

In conclusion, I wish to once again congratulate Glanbia on what was a landmark day for this company.
Ireland stands on the cusp of the biggest positive development for Irish agriculture in over 30 years.

The Irish dairy industry has highlighted its excellent reputation and achieved great success in export markets.
As we gear up for increased production and exports in pursuit of the targets of the Food Harvest 2020 strategy, we see very clearly here today that what Glanbia are putting in place aligns seamlessly with that vision.

This is a historic year for Irish agriculture and the opening of this plant is among its major highlights.

This is an edited version of the speech delivered by the Taoiseach at last Thursday’s official opening at Belview.

An Taoiseach Enda Kenny

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