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McEntee opens International Dairy Conference at Emerald Expo 2012

'Milk Expansion requires maximum efficiency at farm level and
optimal deployment of processing capacity'

The Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Shane McEntee TD, today gave the opening address at the International Dairy Conference at Emerald Expo 2012.  The theme of the conference was ‘Capturing the potential for dairy expansion’.

Emerald Expo is recognised as one of the leading dairy events in Europe and is organised and co-ordinated by Alltech Inc and the Irish Holstein Friesian Association.  Speaking at Cillin Hill, Kilkenny, this morning, the Minister highlighted the vital importance of the Agri-Food sector to Ireland’s economy. Pointing to the role of the dairy sector, he said that dairy exports had performed strongly in 2011, and that the medium and long term prospects for the sector were good, and that the 50% dairy expansion targeted in Food Harvest 2020 can be achieved.  Minister McEntee stressed, however, that there was no room for complacency, particularly in view of the likelihood of continuing price volatility in international markets, saying "There has been a significant price correction in dairy markets over recent months, and this provides a sharp reminder that realising the dairy expansion target will depend on achieving maximum efficiency at producer and processor levels".

The Minister said that the targeted dairy expansion would only happen if it was profitable for operators at all levels of the supply chain, and that this would require a pro-active approach to improving business performance. "This will require particular focus on the optimal deployment of expanded milk processing capacity, on improvements in on-farm competitiveness through the transfer of technology and knowledge to dairy farmers, and on adding value to milk through research and development and innovative product development, and marketing", said the Minister.

Minister McEntee said that a successful expansion would require a concerted effort from operators across the sector.  He said that the critical success factors would include a farm sector with the lowest possible input costs, and strong sustainability and quality credentials, and a processing sector with a strong innovation culture and a focus on processing efficiency. He also pointed to the need for a strong market orientation, geared towards producing what the consumer wants in the way that he or she wants it, backed by a strong reputation for quality, excellence and sustainability in as many markets as possible worldwide.

Concluding, Minister McEntee said that he was confident that the Irish Dairy sector, with the support of the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine and relevant state agencies, was well placed to take on the challenges ahead, to drive production with the energy and professionalism for which it was already renowned, and to meet the ambitious targets for expansion in Food Harvest 2020.

Date Released: 06 July 2012