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Six months into the job and Martin Keane's
role as chairman of Glanbia has certainly
been eventful. The development of a joint
venture Mozzarella manufacturing facility
at Portlaoise in conjunction with Leprino
is one of a number of recent initiatives.
Martin Keane describes the investment:
"It's a 130 million capital project with
another 50 million for working capital
and will add to existing mozzarella
manufacturing capacity at Magheralin in
Northern Ireland and Llangefni in Wales.
It will service a growth sector, targeting the
European market and in addition, there is
the benefit of an alternative route to market
for our cheese curd if cheddar sales to the
UK are disrupted by Brexit. Initial input
into the new factory is expected to be up to
15,000 tonnes. The fact that the new plant
will be few miles up the road from our
Ballyragget milk intake facility is another
A weighty purchase
Glanbia's acquisition of the US SlimFast
brand is substantial by any standards,
as the Glanbia chairman explains: "The
upfront cost is $350 million dollars. In
addition there will be ongoing financing
for working capital. SlimFast a weight
management brand and is 40 years in
existence. That particular market is worth
in excess of 8 billion and is equivalent
and similar in scale to the sports nutrition
sector. That represents a great opportunity
for us, given the fact that there is a huge
demand for products that assist in weight
loss initiatives by millions of people in the
western world."
Securing a bite of the
US cheese market
Glanbia's recent incursion into the
US cheese market has raised some
hackles, with suggestion that it is
in direct competition with Ornua's
Kerrygold cheese products and there
is criticism that Glanbia is using price
to attract customer interest. This is
dismissed by Martin Keane: "Our Truly
Grass Fed brand is a cheddar cheese
type offering. The cheddar cheese retail
market in the States is worth 15.3
billion. Ornua and the Kerrygold brand
are in the market for many years and as
a major shareholder in Ornua we have a
very significant interest in ensuring that
Ornua continues to prosper and develop
its market share. Ornua's share of the
US cheese market is 0.3 per cent. Our
objective is to secure a portion of the
remaining 99.7 per cent of the available
market. We are looking forward to
growing the Irish brand. If you look at
how the Irish whiskey market has grown
in the US over the past decade, because
of the increased choices available to
consumers, there is similar space for
choice in terms of Irish cheddar cheese
Pricing the product
When asked about Ornua CEO
John Jordan's comments that
the Truly Grass Fed brand is
undercutting the Ornua
cheese offering on the
suparmarket shelf,
Martin had this to
Matt O'Keeffe talks to Martin Keane about his first
six months in the role as Chairman of Glanbia