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Ireland is a Leading Global Exporter of Infant Milk Formula

One in Seven Babies Worldwide drink products manufactured in Ireland

Ireland is a Leading Global Exporter of Infant Milk Formula

The rapid growth of dairy farming in Ireland has led to our position as one of the leading global exporters of infant milk formula.  One in seven babies worldwide drink products manufactured in Ireland (2014). The three biggest infant formula producers, Abbott, Danone and Wyeth are based in Ireland and manufacturing infant milk for export to markets in Europe, South East Asia, Middle East, Latin America and Canada.  This is an exciting sector to work in with plenty of opportunity from grass root level right through to manufacturing and sales.

Dairy Farming in Ireland is experiencing extraordinary change and growth. From 2010-2016 a further 300,000 cows were added to Irish dairy farms bringing the national herd to 1.4 million cows. Teagasc expects that by 2025, approximately 6,000 people will be needed to enter the industry as both employees on larger scale dairy farms and to succeed farmers who plan on retiring.

Leading Infant Milk Companies Operating in Ireland

The expansion of dairy farming had led to an increase in Ireland’s milk production. Figures for 2017 showed Ireland’s National Milk Production was over 7 million litres. This is an increase of almost 10% on figures for 2016. Much of this milk is processed and manufactured as infant milk. In Abbott in Cootehill, Co Cavan, 500,000 litres of milk are processed in this way per day. The entire production of the milk: blending, pasteurising, drying and packaging takes place on site. This milk is then exported to international markets and accounts for 35% of Abbotts sales. Danone, another leading manufacturing company in infant milk, are based in Macroom Co. Cork. 80% of this French multinational company’s base powder for Europe is manufactured in Ireland. The annual output from the Wyeth factory in Askeaton, Co. Limerick, exceeds 40,000 tonnes and over 75% is exported outside the EU with significant markets in Asia, the Middle East & Africa.

Exports to China

The Chinese market has been a key player in Ireland’s success. Ireland is the second largest exporter of infant formula to China, surpassed only by The Netherlands. Irish exports to China amounted to 26,000 tonnes in 2016. In 2008 thousands of babies fell ill from domestic formula products and this gave rise to a demand for foreign imports. A decade later the demand is still there; in a McKinsey survey (2017) 53% of Chinese consumers expressed a preference for a foreign brand of infant formula. The abolition of the one child family and introduction of the two child policy in 2016 led to an 8% increase in birth rates. Between 17 and 20 million births per year are predicted for China by 2020. This market is crucial for Ireland to exploit. In 2014, China was ranked as Ireland’s second largest dairy export market and it was valued at €404 million.

Careers in Infant Milk Formula

Production of infant milk starts literally at the grass-roots on dairy farms and ends at the baby bottle. There are many careers attached to the production of infant milk; dairy farming, milk production, merchandising and sales. Here is a sample of occupation for you to browse.

At the Grass Roots – Dairy Farmer

Dairy farming in Ireland is changing rapidly. In the six years from 2010 to 2016 an extra 300,000 cows have been added to Irish dairy farms and the industry is still expanding. In 2016, nearly 50% of cows in Ireland were milked in herds of greater than 100 cows. Teagasc expects that by 2025, approximately 6,000 people will be needed to enter the industry as both employees on larger scale dairy farms and to succeed farmers who plan on retiring.

There are exciting opportunities in the sector and with the increased uptake of collaborative farming – you don’t need to own a farm, or even be from a farm to have a successful career in dairying. All you need is the right attitude and an interest in learning the skills that will allow you to succeed.

Production and Manufacturing of Infant Milk

The production of infant milk requires the strictest food safety and quality standards. There must be absolute certainty in food hygiene and safety. The following are list of roles involved in this process.

Food Safety Consultant 

Food Scientist

Dairy Industry Research Scientist

Food Technologist


The CareersPortal Team



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