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Glanbia, the Kilkenny-based global nutrition company and one of the largest cheese processors in the United States already, is to enter a joint venture with a number of large farmer-owned dairy co-ops to build and operate a giant cheese and whey production facility in the mid-west state of Michigan.
It’s understood the total investment could be in the region of $350m to $400m with Glanbia owning a 50% share in the new joint venture and its processing facility.
The plant, which is expected to open in the second half of 2019, will process up to 3.6m litres of milk per day and its cheese output will be equivalent to about 60% of Ireland’s total current production.
But, more significantly for Glanbia, the plant will add significantly to its production of whey, the by-production of dairy processing and key ingredient for its fast-growing sports and health nutrition product range.
Glanbia has used the joint venture model to expand capacity in the US before. Its Southwest cheese facility in New Mexico, also a joint venture with large co-ops such as Dairy Farmers of America, is the largest single production plant for natural cheese in the US.
The key advantage of the joint venture model is that the borrowings raised to fund the construction of these plants is on the books of the joint venture company and not of Glanbia itself.