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Saudi Arabia: Irish Dairy Board invests €20m in Saudi Arabia

By Fiona Reddan Irish Times

Deal will give co-op access to world’s fifth largest dairy import market

The investment will give the Irish Dairy Board a central hub to access the important dairy growth markets in the Middle East, North African (MENA) region. Photograph: REUTERS/David Moir

The investment will give the Irish Dairy Board a central hub to access the important dairy growth markets in the Middle East, North African (MENA) region. Photograph: REUTERS/David Moir

The Irish Dairy Board (IDB) is to invest €20 million in a number of projects in Saudi Arabia, opening the door of the world’s fifth largest dairy import market to the co-operative.

The investment consists of the acquisition of a 75 per cent interest in Al Wazeen Trading and also the improvement of a new state of art cheese manufacturing plant in the Al Wazeen facility in Riyadh. The investment will further strengthen IDB’s position within the Saudi Arabian marketplace, the fifth biggest dairy importer in the entire world, also supplying a central hub to access the essential dairy development markets within the Middle East, North African (MENA) area.

The investment is a important component in IDB’s strategy to develop routes to marketplaces and added value for Irish dairy produce in the run up to the abolition of milk quotas in 2015. The announcement was made during the Irish trade mission to Saudi Arabia, led by the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Simon Coveney.

The new facility in Riyadh will use dairy ingredients to produce a range of fresh white cheeses that appeal to local market tastes. The cheeses will be made using a pioneering technology developed by the IDB and Teagasc. The technology allows innovative milk protein ingredients to be recombined for fresh white cheese production. Fresh white cheese is hugely popular in the Middle East. The facility will also include an Innovation Hub for the continued research and development of ‘white cheese’ technologies.

The facility will also initially supply dairy products to the Saudi Arabian market. It is anticipated that IDB will use Saudi Arabia as a manufacturing hub for the MENA region, supplying the Islamic Halal market segment.

Kevin Lane, chief executive of the IDB said said that the deal represents “a major route to market and value for Irish dairy in the post quota environment”.

“This investment is strategically very important as it allows us to expand our business throughout the MENA region. With innovation and new product development being critical to growth, our partnership with Teagasc is an excellent example of how with innovative technologies we can create new ways of producing and selling dairy products for a global audience,” he said.

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