Tánaiste Leo Varadkar and Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue turned the sod at the site of a new Glanbia continental cheese facility in Belview, Co. Kilkenny today (Wednesday, June 22).

Representatives from Glanbia Co-op and dairy producer Royal A-ware who have formed a joint venture for the project, called Kilkenny Cheese Ltd., attended the ground-breaking ceremony which took place at the €200 million facility.

The new plant will use around 450 million litres of milk from Glanbia suppliers each year to produce over 50,000t of continental cheese annually, including edam, gouda and emmental varieties.

It is expected that the plant will in turn, support the incomes of more than 4,500 family farms, 400 construction jobs and 80 jobs within the facility upon completion.

Glanbia cheese plant

The plant is set to begin producing continental cheese for global markets in 2024.

Welcoming the new development project, 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. Both I and the government have been supportive of the project throughout, because of its profound importance to farming in the southeast.

“It is heartening to know too that Glanbia Co-op is fully committed to a sustainable future for the dairy sector in partnership with government, through the Food Vision 2030 strategy,” Minister McConalogue added.

Visualisation of Kilkenny Cheese Ltd. facility at Belview Co. Kilkenny

Glanbia milk suppliers

Meanwhile, Tánaiste, Leo Varadkar said: “It’s a huge boost for the southeast 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.

“Our business owners and farmers have risen to every challenge in the past number of years, and there have been many, and have worked incredibly hard to protect jobs and even grow business.

“I believe this facility is a perfect example of that resilience, that flexibility and determination,” Varadkar added.

The chief executive of Glanbia Co-op, Jim Bergin said that the joint venture (JV) approach with Royal A-ware brings expertise in continental cheese production and creates a new route to market for Irish farmers.

“Today marks a significant step on the road to diversifying our product offering post-Brexit,” Bergin stated.

“Our co-op will also benefit from the additional whey and cream streams produced by this new cheese facility.

“This facility is essential in the context of a sustainable future for our co-op and our sector as set out in our ‘Living Proof’ sustainability strategy.”

The new facility at Belview is supported by Enterprise Ireland.