Global drinks giant Coca-Cola is considering establishing a dairy processing plant in Cork, the Irish Farmers Journal has reported.
According to the report, senior executives in Coca-Cola have held a number of meetings in Ireland in recent months to learn about the Irish dairy industry. It has a particular interest around the research and development (R&D) capabilities within the dairy sector. Coca-Cola has visited Teagasc Moorepark in Cork and the Dairy Processing Technology Centre (DPTC) at the University of Limerick to get a better understanding of the R&D work ongoing in the Irish dairy sector.
The company is increasingly looking to diversify away from sugary drinks and has been working closely with the IDA in Ireland to potentially establish a dairy facility in this country.
Coca-Cola launched its own milk brand in the US in 2014 called Fairlife. It costs twice the price of regular liquid milk and is marketed as a healthy drink containing 50% more protein and 30% less sugar than standard milk. In recent years, countries such as Ireland, the UK and Mexico have introduced sugar taxes in a bid to curb obesity levels. This is a driver in Coca- Cola’s strategy to diversify.
The company recently invested €75m to build a new production facility for Fairlife milk in Ontario, Canada. To date, Coca-Cola has not brought its Fairlife brand to consumers in Europe. It is not clear yet if Coca-Cola plans to buy milk direct from Irish farmers. In the US, the company sources milk direct from Fair Oaks Farms, a 30,000-cow dairy farm in Indiana.