Market Diversification Critical in Post-Brexit Environment

February 26, 2017

Minister Creed visits Ornua’s Irish Dairy Hub in Saudi Arabia

Ornua, the largest exporter of Irish dairy products, today welcomed Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed to its white cheese factory in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.  The visit marks the beginning of a Ministerial-led Trade Mission to the Gulf States, with a number of State agencies, including Bord Bia.

The €20 million state-of-the-art facility manufactures white cheeses for the Saudi Arabian market, the fifth largest dairy importer in the world, as well as providing a central hub to access the high growth dairy markets in the Middle East North Africa (MENA) region.  The 15,000 MT capacity facility uses pioneering technology, developed by Ornua and Teagasc, to produce a range of bespoke fresh white cheeses for the bakery sector, retail delis and foodservice customers.  The technology allows milk ingredients to be recombined for fresh white cheese production. White cheeses are hugely popular in the MENA region.  

Welcoming the Minister to the Ornua Saudi Arabia facility, Joe Collins, Managing Director of Ornua Trading & Ingredients, stressed the importance of developing new markets for Irish dairy products in a post-Brexit environment: 

“The Middle East offers a tremendous opportunity for Ornua and the Irish dairy sector.  With a rapidly growing population, and increasing demand for dairy products, the Middle East is a key route to market for Irish dairy.  Given the recent decision on Brexit, the importance of developing new markets cannot be overstated.  While our core markets continue to be important, we are investing heavily in strengthening our global footprint, by increasing scale with new facilities like this in Riyadh, putting ‘our feet on the street’ in new markets, and investing in our brands and new dairy technologies.” 

Minister Creed stressed the importance of developments such as the Ornua facility in Saudi Arabia:

“I am delighted to visit the Ornua Saudi Arabia facility, to meet the team and to engage with some of their key customers.  Irish dairy products are unrivalled in terms of quality and are prized in markets over the world.  Ornua and other Irish dairy companies are playing a key role in building the market for Irish dairy.  In 2016, Ireland exported dairy products to over 130 countries.  Against the backdrop of our efforts to significantly increase dairy output and grow the sector, export market diversification is obviously of the upmost importance, and this is particularly true in the context of a post-Brexit scenario.” 

In-line with increased affluence among the Gulf population, there has been a rapid rise in demand for ‘on the go’ food solutions.  White cheese manufactured in Saudi Arabia by Ornua, using Irish dairy, is a key filling in many savoury pastries that are increasingly consumed ‘on the go’ in the region.  Ornua Saudi Arabia has a dedicated customer innovation centre where it co-develops these fillings for their customers, meeting diverse flavour and application requirements.

Ornua exports Irish dairy products to over 110 countries.  The last two years has seen Ornua invest in acquisitions and significant infrastructure development in Africa, China, Germany, Ireland, Spain, the UK, and the US.  The visit comes just weeks after the announcement that Ornua has signed an agreement to acquire F.J. Need (Foods) Limited, a UK-based cheese ingredients company.

The Minister will also attend the Gulfood trade event, the world’s largest food and beverage event, at which Ornua and other Irish food companies are exhibiting.  Gulfood is the world’s largest annual food & beverage exhibition, with over 5000 exhibitors from over 120 countries.