Food Wise 2025

Chapter 5 - Growth Opportunities

d) Case Studies

Whey Protein Isolate Case Study

Whey, a by-product of the production of cheese, has come a long way in the last 15 years.  Today, due to investments in sophisticated processing technology, and a greater understanding of human nutrition, WPI (whey protein isolate) with 90% protein is a core nutritional ingredient for the sports nutrition industry, which was estimated to be worth $10.1bn globally in 2014 and it is growing at 11% a year. 

WPI is an extremely pure high protein powder which is fat free. Its nutritional profile of essential amino acid gives the ideal combination to help build and repair muscle. It is very popular among athletes due to its ability to be digested very rapidly and help return the post-workout body back from a catabolic (muscle-wasting) state to an anabolic (muscle-building) state, and it commands a premium price from consumers.

Glanbia has become the leading provider of whey based nutritional solutions globally. Glanbia owns the number one Business to Consumer (B2C) global sports nutrition brand family and controls an estimated 12% share of the highly fragmented global sports nutrition market.


Glanbia Ingredients Ireland (GII), a joint venture company of Glanbia Co-op and Glanbia plc, has invested significantly in the production of high quality WPI. In November 2012, GII opened its Whey Protein Isolate facility in Ballyragget, Co. Kilkenny. This €21m investment produces high quality WPI using a state-of-the-art micro-filtering technology, which produces a clean, natural flavour.

Bio-Marine Ingredients Ireland

Ireland is currently a small player in the context of world seafood.  However, given the huge resources around our coast, the sector has major ambitions for sustainable growth in terms of value added product in the food ingredients and in the health and sport nutrition markets.

In that context, the €40 million project by Bio-Marine Ingredients Ireland (BII) to build a world class bio-marine ingredients plant in Donegal, is a key game changer.

This joint venture between Irish fishing interests, and Norwegian partners, aims to process up to 50,000 tonnes of raw material annually to extract high-end proteins, oils and calcium for use as food ingredients, nutritional supplements and later medicinal ingredients. As the business evolves, other products such as marine collagen and gelatin will be developed.

This project combines the commercial know–how of a specialist science and technology company with a stable supply of raw material, which is currently used for low value fishmeal. 

BII hope to go into full production by end 2016 and to use cutting edge marine –pharma technology to convert this low value raw material into high value food ingredient and novel products which meet the demands of the international marketplace for high quality, healthy protein products.

Silver Hill Farm

For well over 50 years, Silver Hill Foods has been at the forefront of duck breeding and production from their base in Emyvale Co Monaghan. The award winning Silver Hill duck is synonymous with quality, not just in Ireland, but as far afield as Singapore and Mainland China, where it is commonly known as “The Mother of all Duck”.

The company is owned by the Steele Family and all aspects of our duck production are owned and controlled by Silver Hill Foods from breeding, egg production, hatching and selection to processing and cooking. It’s worth noting there are only a small amount of companies who actually breed ducks commercially, but Silver Hill are one of the only one that keeps its breed and stock entirely to itself, where others sell their breeds to competitors. One of the main reasons for the quality of the product is the genetic consistency of the breed that is produced every day.

The company is the pioneer in sorting feathers and down on this side of the world. We use state of the art machinery and processes to ensure we produce the finest down quality. For many years the company’s feather and down products were used in the vibrant furniture upholstery in Co Monaghan. And now we find that Silver Hill duvets and pillows are the preferred choice of many 5 Star Hotels around the world.

Environmental sustainability forms an integral part of the Company’s’ philosophy and the company was one of the first business’s to successfully become a member of Bord Bia’s Origin Green initiative.  Innovation and differentiation ensures the company continues to grow in turnover and employment and continue its success of exporting more than 75% of its output.

Walsh Whiskey Distillery

Established in 1999 and based in Carlow, Walsh Whiskey Distillery blends quality Irish ingredients to produce premium spirit drinks.  The company has over the years built up a business exporting craft Irish Whiskey to 36 countries worldwide.  Its products have won gold in international competitions and a 94.5 rating in Jim Murray's Whisky Bible.

The company has worked closely with the development agencies since its establishment.  Qualitative consumer research was undertaken in the US, Germany and Korea to develop a branding to connect with the target market on a more personal level.  This established that packaging was of utmost importance in positioning The Irishman brand and that the pack needed to 'work harder' to connect with its consumer target.

Subsequent re-design of bottling, label and packaging delivered over 150% brand growth on shelf at little additional marketing budget and, together with the detailed feasibility study into setting up a distillery, laid the foundations for investor interest in partnering expansion. Walsh Whiskey Distillery drew on a strong group of experienced industry and market advisers in exploring options and the challenge of developing a robust business which could deliver sustained market growth into the future.

The development of a partnership with Illva Saronno, a family company renowned in the international spirit drinks trade, paved the way for the decision by Walsh Whiskey Distillery to build a new distillery.

The Walsh Whiskey Distillery is an example of the potential to develop a second tier of Irish Whiskey distilleries.  It is also one model  to defray the cost of raising capital to build and sustain a brand, to produce Irish Whiskey to the standard required by the protected Irish Whiskey Geographical Indication and to fund stocks for the minimum three year maturation period or longer as required.

Walsh Irish Distillery has plans also for a visitor centre which would have the potential to generate additional jobs and tourists and linkages with food and whiskey trails.