melamine milk contamination in which six infants died and thousands were hospitalised – drive demand for quality imported infant formula. It’s also for such reasons that imported brands can cost four or five times more than local products. O’Donnell says infant formula can retail for over a50 per tin in a Chinese supermarket. Several Irish dairy brands have capitalised on the demand for formula. Kerry Group has launched an infant formula brand, Green LOVE+ and is partnered with Beingmate to supply Irish ingredients for infant nutrition products manufactured in China. Abbott Nutrition’s Eleva Blue infant formula is manufactured in Co Cavan for the Chinese market and Wyeth’s illuma milk powder, produced in Askeaton, Co Limerick, is now the most popular brand in China.
PREMIUM PRODUCTS The premium segment of the milk market is estimated to include over 186 million households in China. In preparation for the clearing of milk quotas, Ornua (formerly known as the Irish Dairy Board), Ireland’s largest dairy exporter, has been expanding operations in China, and last year launched Kerrygold whole milk under a new Chinese trademark, Jin Kai InBUSINESS | Q1 2015
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Li. It will be marketed in China as a premium imported product. The Ornua’s consumer research found that Chinese shoppers respond positively to the image of Ireland as a pure, green island, with clean family farms, where the tradition of craftsmanship and modern technology ensures safe and quality dairy production. It intends to develop its business in premium cheese and butter, as well as liquid milk. O’Donnell points out that the Irish dairy industry has been active in China for a number of years, particularly Kerry Group, Ornua and Glanbia – who recently launched its Avonmore brand of UHT milk – and is now well placed to expand with the removal of quotas. “We’re quite a bit away from the market and developing business in China is always a challenge. Building relationships with companies here does take time, but the Irish industry has been actively involved in the Chinese market for a number of years and is in a position to take up the opportunities that are here to grow,” says O’Donnell. Though inflated prices may eventually fall, demand is set to continue in China. Now that the quota walls have come down no market is more significant than China in terms of opportunity for Irish dairy exports.
Clockwise from left: >James O’Donnell, Asia Director for Bord Bia. >Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Simon Coveney at the Kerrygold launch of its new Irish milk product to the world’s largest market. >President Michael D Higgins outlines Ireland’s commitment to deliver sustainably produced food to China through Bord Bia’s Origin Green Programme in Shanghai.
With the growing demand for high quality dairy products the Sustainable Dairy Assurance Scheme (SDAS) has been developed to give international markets a safe, secure and sustainable dairy supply chain. It is a national scheme, setting out requirements for best practice on Irish dairy farms in animal health and welfare, land management, biosecurity, safe farming and safe milk production. The SDAS provides a framework for measuring and improving sustainability credentials, and calculates the greenhouse gas emissions of a herd to help farmers improve the sustainability performance of their farm. The scheme also ensures traceability of each animal from the day it is born to the end of its life.