By Dan Walsh
The sod was turned at the site of a new continental cheese facility being built at Belview in south Kilkenny today. The sod-turning was performed by Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment Leo Varadkar and Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Charlie McConalogue.
This strategically important national project will support the incomes of over 4,500 family farms, 80 jobs and 400 construction jobs in the south-east.
The new facility will be one of the most efficient and sustainable continental cheese production facilities in Europe. It is planned that the first continental cheese will be produced for global markets at the facility in 2024.
The facility, which is being built by Kilkenny Cheese Ltd, a joint venture between family-owned Dutch dairy producer Royal A-Ware and Glanbia Co-op, will have a footprint of 18,000 square metres. It will produce over 50,000 tonnes of continental cheese per year, including Edam, Gouda and Emmental cheese varieties which will be brought to market by Royal A-ware through their established channels.
The production facility will utilise approximately 450 million litres of milk from Glanbia milk suppliers each year.
The Tanaiste said; “It’s an honour to be in Belview today to turn the sod on this brand new €200m continental cheese facility. It’s a huge boost for the south-east which has experienced significant and long overdue investment and jobs growth in the past year or two. The UK’s decision to leave the European Union was a seismic event for Ireland’s agrifood sector and the over 163,000 people it employs here.
Minister McConalogue said; “It is a real honour to be in Belview to turn the sod on this really exciting project. It is great to see this really important project finally come to fruition. This is a great day for the 4,500 Glanbia farm family suppliers as well as for the wider Irish agriculture sector and Irish farmers as a whole.”
Glanbia Co-op CEO Jim Bergin, said: “We are delighted to partner with Royal A-ware, a leading global producer of continental cheese, to build this world-class facility in the south-east of Ireland. The joint venture approach brings expertise in continental cheese production and a new route to market for our farmers. Today marks a significant step on the road to diversifying our product offering post-Brexit.”
Royal A-ware CEO Jan Anker said: “When we first announced our partnership with Glanbia Co-op in 2019, we said we were taking another step towards achieving our goals of working with strategic partners to build innovative and sustainable agri-food chains and offering our customers an enhanced product portfolio. Today’s milestone will see our company bring high-quality continental cheese produced through a local supply chain into the marketplace. We look forward to this great new facility opening in 2024.”
Kilkenny Cheese Ltd will invest in highly advanced carbon-efficient processing technology and its enhanced sustainability design ensures it will be a best-in-class facility.
The new facility delivers new continental cheese products for new markets, providing diversification opportunities from the UK cheddar market and supporting the incomes of over 4,500 family farms.
The Kilkenny Cheese joint venture was announced in January 2019 and was scheduled for commissioning in 2022. It is now on track to commence cheese production early in 2024.