At a recent visit to Glanbia Ireland’s new €15 million Innovation Centre, Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue, acknowledged the valuable role of research, development and innovation to the agricultural industry.

Minister McConalogue travelled to Ballyragget in Co. Kilkenny to see the fruits of a project that commenced in 2020 and will facilitate the company in bringing new dairy and grain products, and nutritional as well as functional solutions, to the market.

This ministerial visit precedes an official grand opening of the new facility in 2022, when Covid-19-related regulations permit, a company spokesperson said.

According to Glanbia Ireland, its recently opened Innovation Centre will help it to expand its product ranges made from milk and grains supplied from over 5,800 family farms in its catchment area.

Glanbia’s Innovation Centre
Open just five weeks, the new, 2,000m2 hub is where Glanbia Ireland’s multi-disciplinary research and development (R&D) teams are based. Facilities include a plant-based lab, capable of milling grains to different sizes for various applications, as well as a sensory suite; applications and development lab; a modern visitor-engagement experience; analytical laboratories; and one of Ireland’s most sophisticated pilot-scale pray dryers.

Commenting on the facility, Minister McConalogue said:

“An investment such as this by Glanbia Ireland adds significant value to milk and grain. Innovation, here, is assisting Irish agriculture adapt to the numerous challenges facing farm family suppliers and agriculture in general.

“As we face into a decade of change for our great sector, the cornerstone of our development will be cutting edge research, development and innovation.”

Special general meeting
The minister’s visit comes as Co-op shareholders are urged to register ahead of a special general meeting on Friday, December 17. Glanbia Co-op is proposing to take full ownership of Glanbia Ireland by purchasing Glanbia plc’s 40% stake and to deliver a €168 million spin-out of plc shares to members.

The Innovation Centre’s R&D team has a collective experience of more than 120 years.

It includes food scientists, nutritionists, process engineers, a development chef, an analytical team and others.

Glanbia Ireland CEO, Jim Bergin, said the investment marks an important milestone in the company’s strategic and sustainability journey.

“Our Innovation Centre is home to a team of experts who are passionately researching the worlds of dairy and plant. They include scientists, nutritionists, sensory gurus, development chefs and process technology experts.

“Our new Innovation Centre will allow for faster new product development and prototyping at a higher standard. It will significantly improve our ability for engagement and co-development of products with our customers who we can now welcome in to design prototypes with us and taste product.”