May 17, 2020

Lion invests $150M in Tasmania specialty dairy to support Asia's consumption boom

Australian food manufacturing
imports and export
Frazer Jones
2 min
A platter of Tasmanian Heritage specialty cheeses
Check out the latest edition of Food Drink & Franchise!

Asias economy is booming, with a growing population of middle-class consumers ready to sp...

Check out the latest edition of Food Drink & Franchise!


Asia’s economy is booming, with a growing population of middle-class consumers ready to spend when the right high quality products come along. Lion, an Australian dairy-based subsidiary of Japanese beverage giant Kirin, has seized this opportunity with a $150 million AUD expansion to its specialty cheese plant in Burnie, Tasmania.

"I'm really excited after four years of intensive project management because it [the upgrade] means we've got the efficiency and cost base to invest not only here in Australia but to take some great Australian brands to new consumers," Lion CEO Stuart Irvine told the Sydney Morning Herald.

Some of those new consumers that Lion hopes to win over will be in China, where Australia has been working hard to secure a favorable trade agreement. There is an especially strong growing demand for imported dairy products in emerging markets like China, and Lion is one of many dairy producers in nearby Australia with the capabilities to reach this market.



But just being a dairy provider alone may not be enough to beat out global competitors for China’s business, which is why Lion’s Tasmania plant is focusing on the growth of its high end specialty brands like Tasmanian Heritage as well as other Lion specialty brands like Mersey Valley and King Island. "Penetration [of specialty cheese] is also very low in Asia," Irvine also relayed to the Herald. "If we build a brand portfolio and add value that is the best path forward for Lion and for Australia to take on that dining boom."

According to the Herald, this is a key part of a larger three year turnaround plan for Lion that involves growth outside of Australia and New Zealand with a new Asian business unit as well as a narrowed focus on the premium dairy and drinks market—earlier this year Lion sold off its lower-end cheese business to a Canadian dairy company for $137.5 million AUD. Tailoring its production to high end premium and specialty dairy is precisely on target with recommendations for succeeding as a Western brand entering the Asia market—with this move, Lion can differentiate itself as not just a dairy company supplying a basic need, but also as a high quality luxury brand.

The new upgraded Heritage plant opened Wednesday.

[SOURCE: Sydney Morning Herald]



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Jul 26, 2021

Ireland could create template for global food sustainability

John Pinching
2 min
Luck of the Irish
Irish are dancing to an ethical food production tune as the world watches

Leveraging innovation could cultivate new agricultural breakthroughs, making Ireland the most responsible and sustainable food producer on Earth, according to a renowned local luminary.

Economist and author David McWilliams has insisted that Ireland can become a pivotal carbon-neutral, resource-efficient and sustainable food producer – possibly the most influential on the planet. 

He does acknowledge, however, that there are considerable obstacles on the country’s trailblazing journey to complete energy-efficient and sustainable food production.

McWilliams also claims that the widely-held belief within the EU that reducing food production thus reduces carbon emissions does not tally.

“For the European Union to get an aggregate reduction in carbon emissions,” said McWilliams at the Alltech ONE Ideas Conference. “It would seem to me much more logical to favour those countries that have had an evolutionary, ecological or environmental gift, in order to actually produce more, not less, because your input-output ratio is so much lower than it is either in the parched Mediterranean or in the frozen tundra of the North.”

Reflecting on the situation in the US, McWilliams said its agriculture output had tripled between 1948 and 2015, with exponential gains in efficiency. Surprisingly, agriculture only contributes to 7.5% of total US greenhouse gases, far below the 30% attributed to cars.

“I think American culture is changing, at least when you see it from the outside,” said McWilliams said of President Biden’s approach. “He's saying, ‘There's no point being wealthy if the wealth is only in the hands of a small minority. The wealth has to trickle down to everybody else.’”
McWilliams concluded that for Irish agriculture to modernise and grow, it should use one of Ireland’s leading sectors – technology – as a frame of reference.  It currently generates over $25 billion in exports.

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