Minister of State for European Affairs Thomas Byrne TD visited the Irish-owned Ornua cheese factory in Ávila, Spain, this week.

The state-of-the-art plant produces 35,000t of mozzarella and pizza cheeses each year, with plans to double this output in the coming years.

Irish cagliata – the curd used in the manufacture of pizza cheese – is used as the factory’s raw material.

“This is an Irish investment of quality in Spain and it’s great to see the fruit of this partnership on the ground,” Minister Byrne commented after the visit.

The factory was purchased by Ornua – then the Irish Dairy Board – and renovated in 2014. A fire in 2017 necessitated a €30m investment by Ornua for the plant to return to productivity.

Ornua also has an office in Madrid responsible for the marketing and sale of Ornua consumer products.

Spanish trade

Spain is an important destination for Irish agri-food products, with dairy produce and live cattle being the strongest export sectors.

The dairy sector exported goods worth €73.7m in value to Spain in 2020, mainly through cheese, casein and butter products.

Over 59,500 cattle have been exported live to Spain in the first half of this year.

Approximately 54,000 of this figure was comprised of calves from the dairy herd, making Spain the number one destiny of exported dairy bull calves.