Cheese the day: €78m Carbery Group plant opens

Production of mozzarella and grilling cheese is underway at Carbery Group’s new state-of-the-art facility in west Cork.

Carbery Group has completed the expansion of its new plant in Ballineen, west Cork, beginning with the production of new cheese varieties for export to the food and service markets in Europe and Asia.

Supported by a €78m investment in a new facility at their headquarters in Ballineen, Co Cork, the new ranges of cheese will go to market under the brand name ‘Carbery Dairy’, to be sold in existing and new markets with a particular focus on growing markets in Asia.

“It’s a significant investment for us, in financial terms, but also in terms of our strategy, our people and market research”

The expansion in Ballineen is supported by a new state of the art facility, with specialist equipment from New Zealand, Italy, UK, Denmark and Minnesota in the US.

Sweet dreams are made of cheese

(Forefront) Jason Hawkins, CEO at Carbery Group photographed with chair TJ Sullivan, CFO Colm Leen, COO John Holland and Cheddar Cheese Manager Conor O’Donovan with the new Carbery Dairy mozzarella in Carbery’s new cheese facility in Ballineen, West Cork. Image: Don MacMonagle

“Our cheese diversification strategy has been in the works now for a number of years, so it’s great to see all our planning and efforts come to fruition,” said Carbery Group CEO Jason Hawkins.

“It’s a significant investment for us, in financial terms, but also in terms of our strategy, our people and market research. Our teams across the business have been working extremely hard on this project and we are really looking forward to bringing our products to new markets and returning value on this investment to our farmer shareholders. This diversification will create new markets and value for our West Cork milk suppliers.”

Best known for producing Dubliner Cheese and Carbery Cracker for the Irish domestic market as well as cheese for export under the Ornua brands, Carbery Group currently produces 55,000 tonnes of cheese annually, or 25pc of all cheese made in Ireland.

This is set to increase to 64,000 tonnes with the new expansion now in place. The ‘Carbery Dairy’ brand is a new development for the Group which is producing new varieties of cheese for new markets, and also going to market in a new way.

Things can only get cheddar

“Our new production facilities allow us to offer pasta filata, including mozzarella and grilling cheese, to the market,” said Carbery’s chief operating officer John Holland.

“We are continuing to supply our wide range of cheddar types and all of our cheese products will now be marketed to the ingredient and food service industry for use in commercial kitchens.”

Carbery Group is wholly owned by the four West Cork Co-ops – Bandon, Barryroe, Drinagh and Lisavaird, and the new production facility will process 19 million litres of milk a week during peak supply, from over 1,200 farmer suppliers. As well as funding from Carbery’s existing lenders, the €78m investment is part funded by a €35m loan from the European Investment Bank.

Commenting on the circumstances of this year and how Carbery embraced the challenges, Hawkins said: “2020 has been a challenging year for us all, and Carbery has been no exception.  I want to sincerely thank our employees and in particular everyone involved with the cheese expansion project, for continuing to push to deliver this project even through the extremely difficult circumstances that Covid created during the year. I know that our success will be down to the commitment and dedication shown by all our employees.” 

By John Kennedy (

Published: 19 November, 2020