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Ornua - wheyless cheese commercialisation

ornua pic

Company Background: 

Ornua Cooperative Ltd., an Irish based agri-food commercial co-operative markets and sells dairy products on behalf of its members - Ireland’s dairy processors and Irish dairy farmers, in the global marketplace. As Ireland’s largest exporter of Irish dairy products, it exports to c.110 countries worldwide, with annual sales of over €2 billion.

Engagement Type 

Ornua funded collaborative research with Teagasc and licensing of Teagasc platform technology.

Challenge /Opportunity

In the development of a disruptive platform technology for wheyless cheese manufacture, through combined Teagasc and Enterprise Ireland funding, a unique value proposition included the ability to make high quality cheeses without a fresh milk source. 

Ornua was keen to expand its exports markets, and  identified Saudi Arabia and neighbouring MENA (Middle East & North Africa) countries as key growth areas to target.  It realized the opportunity Teagasc IP and expertise presented in extending Irish based dairy products into these growth areas. In collaboration with Teagasc, Ornua funded a collaborative project, to  optimize the Teagasc platform technology to produce high quality cheeses, adapted to specific export markets, using Irish dairy ingredients.


With a key background platform technology protected through patent filing, significant expertise within Teagasc food research centre Moorepark, and access to pilot plant facilities at Moorepark Technology Limited, Ornua funded a collaborative project at Teagasc, to optimise and validate the platform technology , to develop specific white cheeses, adapted for the Middle East and MENA countries based on reconstitution of Irish dairy based ingredients into cheeses. In parallel, a licence to the background Teagasc platform technology to allow commercialization of developed products was negotiated through Teagasc technology transfer office.


Validated Products emanating from the collaboration included Labneh/ cream and feta cheeses for retail, bakery and other applications, adapted to the Middle Eastern market.  Further to the licence signed with Teagasc, a €20 million investment into a manufacturing plant acquisition in Saudi Arabia in 2017 enabled Ornua to enter this  new and very significant market to provide high quality customised cheeses based on quality Irish dairy based ingredients. Following initial production in 2017, The plant has continued to build its revenue, customer base, capability & reputation locally with positive year on year volume & revenue growth.

This case study was national winner of Knowledge Transfer Ireland (KTI) Impact AwardS 2017, within the Licence2Market category, based on the significant impacts for Teagasc, Ornua and the Irish Dairy Industry and exports markets of the licensing of Teagasc IP by Ornua.

See press release - KTI celebrates ground- breaking technology and research collaboration.


" The ability to innovate and adapt to market needs is key to developing opportunities for Irish dairy, and Ornua's partnership with Teagasc is a great example of how innovative dairy technologies developed by Teagasc and invested in by a company, can create new ways of producing dairy products for global markets

Kevin Lane, CEO of Ornua,(2017)