Irish agri-business firms sign significant deals in China

The Irish Dairy Board, Kerry Group, and animal feed technology firm Richard Keenan & Co have announced deals during a successful Irish trade mission in China.

IDB is launching a whole milk product under its Kerrygold Chinese brand, written in Chinese script and pronounced ‘Jin Kai Li’.

Kerrygold Whole Milk will be sold by major retailers, regional shopping networks, and e-commerce retailers. IDB research found Chinese shoppers respond positively to the image of Ireland as a pure, green island, with clean family farms, with craftsmanship married to safe, modern technology.

IDB’s Jeanne Kelly said: “There are few more significant countries than China in terms of opportunity for dairy growth and we see considerable potential to develop our business, not only in liquid milk, but also in cheese and butter.”

The Chinese liquid milk market is worth €18bn with an annual growth rate of over 10%. Over 11bn litres of liquid milk are consumed in China each year, versus 670m litres in Ireland.

Kerry Group has just launched an Irish infant formula brand called Green LOVE+ into the Chinese market. Manufactured from 100% Irish milk, this is the first infant formula to be produced by an indigenous Irish company in Ireland. The product will retail at around €43 for a 1kg can —around four times the price being paid for similar products in the Irish market.

Kerry Group’s Frank Hayes said: “We don’t sell in the local Irish market, so it’s hard to compare prices. We have just made the official launch of this premium infant formula product into the Chinese market.

“This is just one of a number of our strong relationships with customers and our business partners in the Chinese market.”

All of the milk going into the new infant formula will be supplied by Kerry Agribusiness in Ireland. The new canning line at Charleville, Co Cork, is expected to manufacture 15,000 tonnes of infant formula product this year. Kerry has been in a partnership with Chinese infant nutrition company Beingmate since 2012.

Richard Keenan & Co, Borris, Co Carlow, has also expanded its business in China. Keenan China, a franchise with Shanghai Shengmu Livestock Co, is to expand operations from the Shanghai region in Southern China to a full-scale national business. The deal is worth a minimum of €7m over a three-year period.

Shanghai Shengmu Livestock Co is run by Chen Qingguo, who said: “We’re excited by the potential of bringing Keenan technology and a new service model to the Chinese livestock sector.”

Gerard Keenan added: “We are delighted we will now have a full China reach to bring Keenan technology to China’s family farms and large-scale farming operations that are springing up right across China.”

Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney is leading this week’s trade mission to China. He said Keenan’s efforts in China have been funded and supported by Enterprise Ireland.

Meanwhile, Keenans, UCD and the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences have also joined forces to form the China-Ireland Dairy Science and Technology Centre.

Mr Coveney also opened the largest ever Irish pavilion at the China Seafood & Fisheries Expo — the largest trade show in China — which takes place in Qingdao this week. Organised by Bord Bia, Ireland’s stand will include representatives from a record 11 Irish seafood companies.


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