Despite the challenges of the last year, Ornua, the Irish agri-food co-operative, has recorded a record turnover.
CEO of Ornua, John Jordan talks
to Erin MCCafferty
From a recession to a pandemic, one Irish company is turning times of crisis into opportunity
John Murphy, chairman Tirlán, Tadhg Furlong, Iruish rugby international, Nicola O'Connell, head of consumer development, Tirlán and Jim Bergin, CEO Tirlán
Article appeared in issue 5, 2022
The Birth of Tirlán
Glanbia Co-op and Glanbia Ireland announce rebrand
Glanbia Co-operative Society Ltd (Glanbia Co-op) and Glanbia Ireland, the Irish food and nutrition business, has announced a new name. In future, the brands will collectively be known as Tirlán.
Combining the Irish words ‘Tír’ for land and ‘Lán’ for full, Tirlán stands for ‘Land of Abundance’ and represents the relationship between the co-op, its farmers, and the land they farm.
The name Tirlán was unveiled to employees and farmer shareholders during an online seminar hosted on August 31, in the co-op’s new collaboration centre at Abbey Quarter in Kilkenny City.
It’s the latest step for the co-op, following a decision in December 2021, to purchase the remaining 40% stake in Glanbia Ireland from Glanbia plc, to become the outright owners of the Irish dairy and grain business. As a result of the transaction, both Glanbia Co-op and Glanbia Ireland are required to transition to a new name. In the coming weeks, the co-op shareholders will now be asked to vote to approve the name change.
Glanbia plc will retain and continue to operate under the Glanbia name as an entirely separate entity. Tirlán will remain the largest shareholder in Glanbia plc, with a 31.9% shareholding.
From its base in the south-east of Ireland, Tirlán sources high-quality dairy and grains from a network of over 6,000 farm families. Tirlán’s portfolio includes many well-known Irish dairy brands, such as Avonmore, Kilmeaden, Premier and Wexford, as well as international brands like GAIN Animal Nutrition, Truly Grass Fed, Millac and Solmiko nutritional milk proteins.
As a co-operative, Tirlán is 100% farmer-owned, with 11 high-tech processing facilities, 52 agri-branches and over 2,100 employees. Sales revenue this year is forecast to exceed €3 billion.
The co-operative contributes significantly to the rural Irish economy. In the past year, it has paid over €1.6 billion directly to farming families, for milk and grain. As the largest buyer and user of Irish grain, Tirlán handles over 270,000 tonnes, and has a portfolio of premium grains.
In addition, Tirlán has a market presence in the UK, France, Germany, the UAE, the US, North Africa, Japan, and China, and it currently exports to over 80 countries around the world. It also recently commenced construction of a €200m state-of-the-art continental cheese facility at Belview, Co. Kilkenny, in a joint venture with the Dutch dairy producer Royal A-ware.
While its name may be changing, its commitment to sustainability is not. As part of its comprehensive sustainability strategy ‘Living Proof,’ the organisation has signed up to the Science-Based Targets initiative (SBTi). It has set out a roadmap to be Net Zero for carbon emissions by 2050, with 30% absolute reductions by 2030, and similar reductions in carbon intensity from milk production. As a commited member of Origin Green, Bord Bia's pioneering food and drink sustainability programme, Tirlán is also recognised for excelling in sustainable food production.
We can expect to see the new Tirlán identity in the coming months, as it slowly starts to be used on trucks and products, and in facilities. In addition, the 52 agri-branches and Glanbia retail stores will be re-branded to Tirlán FarmLife and Tirlán CountryLife. The Glanbia Connect website is set to transition to Tirlán FarmLife with immediate effect.
Speaking at the launch of the Tirlán name, in Kilkenny, CEO Jim Bergin, said: “It’s with a sense of history and optimism that we unveil Tirlán as an ambitious, innovative, and modern co-op that combines the best of our heritage, all our people, and our expertise.
“Our organisation has evolved over our 100-year history. Entering this new phase of our co-op’s journey, Tirlán has ambitions for an ever-increasing role in the wider economy, the international food and nutrition sectors, and especially in rural communities across the country.
“We are so proud of our history and heritage and determined that the sense of pride and identity is always at the heart of our business. That is what Tirlán represents.”
The Chairman of Tirlán, John Murphy, said: “Over the decades, Tirlán has consistently underpinned the livelihoods of our people and our communities. This next exciting step in our evolution will see even stronger bonds with our farmers, our people, and our customers. I am really excited about the launch of Tirlán and the opportunities for this ambitious company to grow and develop in the coming years. We have great brands, well-invested facilities and most importantly, a superb team of people. Our farmers own the business and supply really high-quality produce from family-run operations that are huge contributors to the rural economy. We will maintain our relentless ambition to deliver ever more sophisticated nutrition to our customers and reap the rewards for our farm families.
“Our strong ambitions require an identity that reflects our position as a co-operative that cares for our people and strives to deliver a sustainable future for all. I strongly believe Tirlán achieves that objective.”
The launch was also attended by Tirlán’s brand ambassador, Leinster, Ireland, and British and Irish Lions rugby international, Tadhg Furlong, who is from a farming background in Co. Wexford and is set be part of an upcoming campaign to build awareness of the new Tirlán identity in the coming months.
“Coming from a country background and a farming family, I know the hugely important role farming co-operatives play in local communities and economies across Ireland,” said Tadhg. “In that regard, Tirlán is one of the most important businesses in Ireland and I am proud to help promote visibility and awareness of the co-op to farming families, Tirlán customers, and the wider public over the coming months.”
Tirlán will start to become visible over the coming months, with a phased transition to the new identity on trucks, products, and facilities. The 52 agri-branches and retail stores will be re-branded to Tirlán FarmLife and Tirlán CountryLife on a phased basis. The Glanbia Connect website will transition to Tirlán FarmLife with immediate effect.