Written Answers. - Infant Nutritional Products.

Paul Connaughton

Ceist:

38 Mr. Connaughton asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food the percentage of Irish produced milk that goes to the manufacture of baby food; the value of this product; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18938/03]

Last year, approximately 26,000 tonnes of Irish skimmed milk powder, which is the equivalent of 82 million gallons of milk, was used in the manufacture of infant nutritional products. This accounts for over 25% of our annual SMP production and acts as a valuable outlet for Irish milk powder. Taking the current SMP intervention price of €2,055.20 per tonne, the value of this to Irish processors is at least €53 million. Of course, one would expect the actual price received by processors to be higher. In addition, over 8,000 tonnes of Irish whey powder and nearly 12,000 tonnes of Irish lactose were also sold into the infant nutritional sector last year.

The strong infant nutritional presence in Ireland brings direct benefits to both milk producers and dairy processors as suppliers of inputs, and provides a value added alternative for Irish dairy produce. In addition, these companies bring huge benefits to the Irish economy in terms of employment, export sales, and research and development expenditure.