Information : Dairy

Ireland is recognised as a global leader in the dairy sector in terms of the safety, sustainability and traceability of our dairy production on family farms, through to our processing in facilities that range from global household names to niche cottage industries, and on our justified and hard-earned reputation for quality. Actions pursued since the launch of Food Wise 2025 - Ireland’s strategy for the overall agri-food sector - further promote the quality of our produce, through initiatives such as Origin Green and the Sustainable Dairy Assurance Scheme, the world’s first internationally accredited national dairy assurance scheme. 

While global demand for dairy products remains strong, the quality of Irish sourced milk is a key competitive advantage in our promotional efforts in new and existing markets. Investment in research and innovation, improvements in on-farm practices, and the development of added-value products are key priorities for Ireland’s dairy sector. Opportunities for growth remain positive and are largely being driven by innovation in new flavours, product varieties, portion sizes and pack formats to meet changing consumer demands. Increased focus on health issues and environmental impact are critical factors for the future. Continued progress on the actions outlined in Food Wise 2025 will place Ireland among the world’s fastest growing dairy producers, and further develop the sector’s capacity to withstand challenges and meet opportunities over the coming years. 

Our dairy sector provides multiple positive effects for rural Ireland in terms of an outlet for quality farm produce as well as a source of high quality employment and commercial investment in rural communities. Ireland’s dairy production continues to expand in the years following the end of the quota period, and is among the world’s fastest growing dairy producers as farmers generously share their knowledge to improve standards in the industry and in their communities. 

  • Ireland exported dairy produce to over 145 countries in 2017, valued at approximately €4.6 billion and contributing approximately 7% to Ireland’s overall trade surplus.
  • Ireland supplies approximately 10% of global Infant Milk Formula, worth over €1.2 billion in 2017, with up to €500 million imported into China annually.
  • Total milk deliveries in 2017 are estimated to reach 7.5 billion litres. Over 98% of this milk is processed by farmer-owned co-operatives or organisations including a co-operative structure.
  • Over €55 million has been invested by dairy farmers in on-farm capital equipment at low-cost interest rates as part of the €150 million Agriculture Cashflow Support Loan Scheme launched in 2017. This Scheme was developed by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine in co-operation with the Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland.
  • Initiatives such as Origin Green and the Sustainable Dairy Assurance Scheme provide the world’s first internationally accredited national dairy assurance scheme.
  • Minister Creed recently hosted the fifth meeting of the Dairy Forum with key stakeholders from the Irish dairy sector to discuss how best to future proof the sector by formulating a cohesive approach to dealing with ongoing challenges.

See also:  Food Exports Dairy - Key Requirements (doc 37Kb) .