Glanbia Ireland remains committed to its planned continental cheese facility at Belview in Co. Kilkenny, despite ongoing planning delays, according to CEO Jim Bergin.

The proposed continental cheese production facility at Belview – a joint venture with Dutch dairy firm, Royal A-ware – has been the subject of intense debate in recent months following repeated appeals from An Taisce to the planning of the project.

Addressing co-op members at the virtual annual general meeting of Glanbia Co-operative Society today, Bergin said:

“We passionately believe in this project and are committed to bringing it to fruition in conjunction with our joint venture partner, Royal A-ware.

“They are an excellent partner for this project, bringing continental cheese production expertise and global routes to market.”

He pointed out that Royal Aware is a highly regarded company with a growing presence internationally – in fact, Ireland will be the sixth country in which they are involved in dairy.

Bergin told the AGM that the importance of the project to Ireland post-Brexit had been over-looked in much of the recent commentary.

“What has got lost in the recent debate is that this project was introduced to reduce our national exposure to Brexit. This project will create a new product for new markets, reducing our dependence on the UK cheddar cheese market.”

Bergin said that, as part of an ambitious climate action agenda, Glanbia plc has recently signed up to Science Based Targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, informed by independent climate science and in line with the levels of decarbonisation called for in the Paris Agreement.

He said that Glanbia Ireland would shortly announce its own comprehensive sustainability strategy, following over a year of detailed work by a cross-functional team.

He credited Irish farmers for playing their part in addressing Ireland’s environmental challenges, stating: “Irish farmers are the custodians of the environment and are among the best in the world.

“Like everyone else, the sector is adapting to the realities of climate change. Farm families are proud custodians of the rural environment, and we will support our farmers in addressing challenges and building on Ireland’s great natural credentials. Farmers have proven their willingness to adapt and change many times.

Bergin told the AGM that Glanbia was proud of its strong cooperative and community roots going back over 100 years.

“We will support our farmer members in addressing the challenges ahead,” he concluded.