Dáil debates

Wednesday, 29 September 2021

Saincheisteanna Tráthúla - Topical Issue Debate

Food Industry

9:32 am

Photo of Seán FlemingSeán Fleming (Laois-Offaly, Fianna Fail) | Oireachtas source

I have been asked to take this on behalf of the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment who cannot be here this morning. I thank Deputy Cowen for raising this important issue in the Tullamore-Killeigh area of County Offaly, as it relates to a long-standing business there. I also acknowledge Deputy Stanley for raising the matter, which affects the Laois side of the constituency because Killeigh is quite close to the county boundary.

It was a shock to all of us to learn of the fire at the Glenisk yogurt factory in Killeigh on Monday, 27 September. Thankfully, there was no loss of life and the company and its staff must be commended on their swift action and adherence to their fire safety protocols in achieving this. Glenisk is a long-established business in the midlands and Offaly. It was started in 1987 by Jack and Mary Cleary and has been continued by the family. Vincent Cleary is now a very active managing director of the business. It has approximately 90 loyal staff, many of whom have been there for more than 20 years, and it has 50 suppliers of organic milk and it is also important that be maintained.

Glenisk is a long-established client of Enterprise Ireland, an agency of the Department of Enterprise Trade and Employment. I am informed by officials in the Department that Enterprise Ireland have been in contact with the company following the fire. The company is assessing the damage at present, and Enterprise Ireland has indicated that the company will have the full support of the agency as its rebuilds and recovers. That is the most important thing that I can say today, namely that State agencies will assist in every way because Glenisk is a brand leader, not only locally but internationally, including across the EU. Deputy Cowen mentioned other State agencies that could play a role. He also mentioned planning issues and I will come back on that. My Department is clear on what has to be done and the Government will do that through Enterprise Ireland and the Department.

Job losses were mentioned. I hope there are no job losses at the end of this. It was a shock but the Cleary family is determined to get business up and running in Glenisk as soon as possible. I was very encouraged by their early remarks, after they recovered from the shock, about regrouping and rebuilding. That is the spirit that has brought them this far and I know it will continue into the future.

For those not familiar with the business, the company operates in the competitive landscape of high-end, premium organic yogurt, competing with Danone brands, Activia and Liberté, and with Yeo Valley but possess a powerful brand image within Ireland and the UK. The company is recognised for their premium, clean label, organic cow's milk yogurt and goat's milk dairy. The company have taken action in respect to their climate footprint and has a strong focus on sustainability. In the past 12 months it has removed close to 90 tonnes of plastic from its packaging and can now describe its packaging as carbon neutral.

I am informed that Glenisk is currently Ireland's largest manufacturer of branded yogurt with a turnover of in excess of €27.5 million, an Irish market share of 15% and employs in the region of 90 people. The company has also taken positive action in light of the uncertainties relating to Brexit and the EU UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement, TCA. Glenisk has refocused its company's market diversification strategy towards continental Europe to mitigate the significant risk associated with over-reliance on the Irish market. It has a high market share and I encourage the company to continue its work to increase its market share throughout Europe.


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