The new Glanbia continental cheese factory will strengthen rural Ireland by supporting 4,500 family farms, according to a group of Fine Gael Oireachtas members.

The sod was turned at the site of the new facility in Co. Kilkenny today (Wednesday, June 22) by Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Leo Varadkar and Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue.

The plant at Belview marks a joint venture between Glanbia and international dairy processor Royal A-ware.

In a statement, Fine Gael TDs Charlie Flanagan, Paul Kehoe, John Paul Phelan, and David Stanton and senators Garret Ahearn and John Cummins welcomed the development.

They noted that the beginning of construction on the €200 continental cheese factory signals “a prosperous future for rural Ireland and family farms”.

“The facility, which is expected to produce cheese for global markets by 2024, will yield over 50,000t of continental cheese/year – utilising around 450 million litres of milk from Glanbia suppliers,” the Fine Gael Oireachtas members stated.

“Glanbia is a hugely important contributor to the economy of rural Ireland and is a lifeline for many workers across the country. Over €1.2 billion was paid to farm families for milk last year, with Glanbia Co-op being the largest purchaser and user of Irish grains,” they added.

Image of planned Glanbia cheese plant in Co. Kilkenny

“Not only will this project support rural Ireland and family farms, but it will also be one of the most sustainable continental cheese production facilities across Europe,” they continued.

“By allowing for in-house milk processing, transport movements and costs will further be reduced.

“In addition to the 80 high-skilled job opportunities on offer once the facility is opened, over 400 jobs will be created during construction. It is estimated that the Kilkenny facility, located in the heart of rural Ireland, will support almost 1,400 jobs across the wider economy.

“This project has faced significant delays and the focus now must be to ensure it is fully operational as soon as possible in order to support the 4,500 family farms who supply milk to Glanbia every day,” the Fine Gael representatives concluded.