China is no longer the focus of the export drive that has been put in place by the Irish dairy industry, according to Colin Gordon, chief executive of Glanbia Foods Ireland.

“We are now looking at Asia as a whole,” he said.

We launched our Avonmore UHT brand in China 12 months ago. But the real opportunities moving forward will be in Asia as a whole, Africa and the EU.

We will be supplying UHT milk and cream from the new plant at Lough Egish into all of these markets.

Gordon confirmed that the Lough Egish plant will process 100m liters of milk annually, once it is fully on stream in a year or so’s time.

“All of this milk must come from Origin Green certified suppliers in the Republic of Ireland. This is specifically referenced under the terms of our Avonmore supply contracts with customers in China.”

As a consequence, the UHT plant will not be accepting milk from Northern Ireland. Gordon said that UHT milk, produced in Ireland, can be competitive with the product sold into Asia by processors in New Zealand.

“We have put in place a bespoke processing plant at Lough Egish, which will allow our products to have a shelf life of 12 months.

“In addition, the indirect and direct UHT heating systems will ensure that the milk will taste as fresh after 12 months as it did the day it arrived at our factory.

“So, rather than compete with new Zealand, our aim to secure a premium price for the UHT products that we are supplying.

“We have dedicated export terms in all of the world’s key markets. And this approach is already paying a dividend. We are now active on five of China’s most important e-trading platforms. And we want to develop this for the future.

“The possibilities are endless, in terms of developing next export business opportunities. And all of this is good news for Irish dairy farmers,” he said.