The dairy industry past and present gathered at Station Road in Tipperary town to mark the official opening of the new dryer for Tipperary Co-op.
Industry representatives, dairy chief executives and co-op chairs from all dairy businesses gathered to mark the €37m investment in milk processing and upgraded waste facilities.
Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue took a break from his CAP consultation mart tour to officially unveil the new investment with Tipperary Co-op chair William Ryan and chief executive John Daly.
In his speech, the Minister committed to helping the industry deliver on the recently announced Food Vision 2030 report for agriculture, which aims to increase the value of food exported from Ireland from €14bn to over €21bn by the end of the decade.
Critically, he said the increase in total value needs to come from increasing value more so than volume.
Currently, the core Tipperary Co-op business is a cheese business, a butter business and, increasingly, a growing powder business.
Cheese is becoming a smaller cog in the wheel for Tipperary and the powders it produces, like those that supply base commodity product to the infant formula sector, are growing. Tipp has a long business relationship with French-based international giant Danone.
Tipperary Co-op CEO John Daly said: “What we are trying to do here has only begun. Some see this as the end, but really it’s only the start. This investment is reflective of the vision and courage of the board and previous management.”
Co-op chair WiIliam Ryan said: "This is a very proud day for us after some tough times. We have fantastic staff and have had great support from the local community and the townspeople of Tipperary.”
The core milk supply base for Tipperary Co-op is primarily the 400 or so farmers in the south, west and north of Tipperary. The milk supply from its own suppliers in 2020 was 186m litres - making it equivalent in size to one of the west Cork co-ops.
However, Tipperary took in another 100m-plus litres from other processors in 2020 and in total processed 293m litres of milk in 2020.
This year is the first full year of a new stream of powder product from the recently commissioned new dryer at Station Road in Tipperary town. The dryer is now fully operational.
The co-op invested over €37m in capital projects over the last three years - a new high-specification dryer/evaporator (€32.7m) and an enhanced waste facility (€4.2m).
All this means that, if required, Tipperary Co-op has the capacity to process over 600m litres of milk annually - that’s over twice the volume of milk it currently processes.
Minister McConaloige recently visited the VistaMilk SFI Research centre, along with several senior members of his Department and Dr Siobhan Roche from co-funding partner Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) at Teagasc Moorepark.
VistaMilk is an SFI world-leading centre for precision-based dairy production and processing that sees collaboration agri-food and information communications technology (ICT) research institutes and leading Irish/multinational food and ICT companies.
Among the research showcased on the day was work on the carbon-capturing capacity of Irish soil, measuring methane in grazing dairy cows using GreenFeed technology, multispecies swards and next-generation animal welfare sensor technology.