The Irish Dairy Board (IDB) has just opened a new $12 million cheese manufacturing facility in Wisconsin.

The plant is part of the board’s Thiel cheese and ingredients subsidiary. This is the last part of an $80 million investment program in the US.

The IDB said the facility will increase its US manufacturing capacity in the US by around 40 percent and will be an important route to market for its protein product casein.

The IDB has an extensive US customer base and has high hopes this investment will provide more opportunities for Irish dairy products.

The IDB is an agri-food co-operative which markets and sells dairy products on behalf of its members. The IDB has sales of approximately $3 billion and employs some 3,100 people globally.

The co-op is responsible for exporting about 60 percent of Ireland’s dairy products to over 100 countries.

The Wisconsin plant was opened by Irish Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney, who is promoting Irish food and drink on a week-long trade mission to the US. Coveney had this to say:

“Dairy production in Ireland is on the cusp of a dramatic expansion following the abolition of European Union quotas in 2015. The Irish Dairy Board, through this initiative, is helping to build a reputation for the Irish dairy sector in the US, a new and growing market. Based on cutting edge technology, the research and innovation output from this facility can be applied to add value across the entire group.”

IDB chief executive Kevin Lane said: “The focus of this investment is on innovation as much as production with our new facility enhancing our ability to create innovative food solutions that meet the evolving needs of our US customer base and their brands.”