Cork dairy hub vision could create 4,000 jobs by 2020

Academics will deliver a report next Monday showing that Cork is ideally poised to become “a leading dairy industry hub of global significance” with potential to increase dairy exports by €450m and create 4,000 jobs by 2020.

The authors — Declan O’Connor, lecturer and researcher at Cork Institute of Technology’s department of mathematics and Michael Keane of University College Cork — will state that with proper planning and investment, dairy farming in the region can reap significant rewards as a result of the end of the 30 years of EU milk quotas.

After extensive research, they conclude that when the quotas finish next April, “Cork is poised to become the world’s fastest growing developed dairy region over the next decade” and given the already strong dairy base in the county, with proper planning and investment, it is ideally positioned to consolidate its position.

News of the potential dairy windfall was welcomed by Conor Healy, chief executive of Cork Chamber.

He said the report “substantiated one published by the chamber last summer which highlighted business opportunities for Cork companies in the food and drinks sector”.

“Cork is the leading dairy producer county and on-farm investments are taking place as well as within the industry itself, such as recent announcements from Dairygold about further investments in Mallow and Mitchelstown. The challenge for the region is that we now achieve the growth levels which the academics believe are attainable,” he said.

Dairygold is investing €117m in Mitchelstown and Mallow, with the largest investment of €83.5m in the latter plant where its regenerating its milk processing facilities.

The Mallow investment will lead to 400 jobs being created during construction and a further 115 full-time jobs with its planned increase in milk production up to 2020.

The company also spent €33.5m upgrading its Castle-farm dairy processing complex in Mitchelstown. From next year every block of Kerrygold butter distributed in the world will be manufactured in Mitchelstown.

Both investments are supported by the Department of Jobs, Enterprise, and Innovation through Enterprise Ireland. The Taoiseach said the investments represented Dairygold’s strong vote of confidence in the capability of its milk suppliers.

Jobs Minister Richard Bruton said he believed the investment would create an additional 1,000 jobs in farming and the service sector in the region.

North Cork-based TD Tom Barry (FG), who is a farmer, said he expected other co-ops in the region to expand as result of the quota system being dropped.

“There are huge opportunities as Ireland already produces 17% of the world’s infant milk formula. It’s a very high value market as parents will only get the best for their children and China is opening up for us and this will be huge,” he said.


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