Dairy is a very positive industry to be associated with MTU professor Declan O'Connor told the Irish Farmers Journal's Dairy Day in Páirc Uí Chaoimh, Co Cork, on Thursday 23 November.

Forecasts for the future of the industry, O'Connor said, are positive, as global dairy demand is expected to continue to increase by 1% or 2%.

"One thing that we have to bear in mind is that as we move forward, we probably will have to see more investment in the value added element of the industry."

This, he said, is going to require fairly significant investment and sometimes it's difficult for processors to commit to spending the money.

"First of all, there's risk associated with the investment, in research and development, people don't always see the tangible benefits.

"But the good news is that we have a very strong industry; we've got very well trained people on the technology side and we've a very clear vision of where we want the industry to go. From an educational point of view, we're in quite a good place," he said.

Financial situation

From a financial point of view, milk processors are in a reasonably good position with regards to debt from previous expansions and investments, O'Connor said.

Dairy processing expansion post-2015 has been largely paid for at this stage, O'Connor said.

"The good thing about the recent investments is that they're probably more carbon footprint friendly.

"We're building better processing capacity, we're building more efficiently and, in turn, that is probably reducing our carbon footprint rate fairly substantially."