Irish Minister for Agriculture, Food & the Marine Simon Coveney officially opened a new $12 million facility at Thiel Cheese & Ingredients, Hilbert, Wis. (Thiel).

Officials say the new facility is part of an $80 million expansion investment made by the Irish Dairy Board (IDB) in its U.S. Food Ingredients business. They say the investment expands the production capability of the business by more than 40% and continues to support 135 jobs.

“We are excited to open this state-of-the-art facility at Thiel Cheese & Ingredients in Wisconsin,” said Neil Cox, president of IDB’s U.S. Food Ingredients. “Wisconsin, like Ireland, has a proud tradition of producing some of the best dairy products in the world and has developed into a hub of innovation for cheese production. This new facility enhances our ability to create innovative food solutions that meet the evolving needs of our U.S. customer base and their brands.”

IDB acquired the Thiel business in 2011.Since then, the business has grown strongly with sales rising to $80 million in 2013, up 13%, officials note. Thiel supplies cheese and cheese-based ingredients to some of America’s largest food companies. 

“This new facility will further strengthen the positioning of Ireland and Irish Agri-business expertise in the United States as well as support the economic prospects of Irish dairy farmers,” said Coveney. “We are entering an exciting time for the Irish dairy sector as EU milk quotas will be abolished next April and today’s opening represents the kind of investment which will help the sector realize its true potential.”

Officials say Thiel’s new state-of-the art facility includes a Customer Innovation Center to develop new products and functional dairy solutions for Thiel’s U.S. food ingredients and foodservice customers. The facility also boasts some of the U.S. dairy industry’s most advanced cheese processing equipment.

IDB is Ireland’s largest exporter of dairy products. Founded more than 50 years ago, IDB is best known for its Kerrygold and Dubliner brands.

The IDB entered the US Food Ingredients market in 2008, with the formation of Meadow Ingredients.  In 2011 it acquired Thiel Cheese & Ingredients, a leading provider of cheese and cheese-based ingredients to the U.S. commercial and foodservice sectors. Thiel Cheese & Ingredients custom formulates and manufactures a complete line of pasteurized process cheese products.