Dáil Éireann - Volume 291 - 01 June, 1976

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Condensed Milk Imports.

10. Dr. H. Gibbons and Mr. Daly asked the Minister for Industry and Commerce if he is aware of the large amounts of (a) sweetened condensed milk and (b) unsweetened condensed milk that are imported into the State; if he will draw the attention of the IDA to this; and if he will recommend to it that it make proposals to remedy the situation.

[454] Mr. Bruton: Both the Industrial Development Authority and myself are aware of the growth in imports of sweetened and unsweetened condensed milk since home production ceased in 1975. The authority propose to discuss with interests involved in the dairy industry the possibility of recommencing the manufacture of these products.

Mr. O'Malley: Would the Parliamentary Secretary agree that the logical place to recommence the manufacture of these products would be in the condensed milk factory in Limerick where the manufacture was discontinued last year following the takeover of that factory by Golden Vale?

Mr. Bruton: I would hope the IDA would give consideration to the Lansdowne plant in their assessment of this situation.

Mr. O'Malley: Does the Parliamentary Secretary agree it was not at all necessary that the manufacture of condensed milk at Limerick should have ceased? Will he take steps to encourage Golden Vale to restart it, as plant and space are available for it, and there is a large trained work force, many of whom have been made redundant?

Mr. Bruton: I presume Golden Vale took this decision on the basis of commercial considerations which seemed appropriate to them. It would not be for me to comment on their wisdom or unwisdom in this matter. I will draw the specific case of the Lansdowne plant to the attention of the IDA for consideration in the course of the assessment I have indicated they are carrying out.

Mr. O'Malley: Does the Parliamentary Secretary not agree it is extremely unsatisfactory that, in a milk producing country such as this, in which there is a vast surplus of milk, we are importing condensed milk quite unnecessarily?

Mr. Bruton: It is most unsatisfactory that we should be failing to make use of our resources to the full. To this extent it would be most desirable if we could get industrial development [455] on the lines suggested in the Deputy's question. For that reason the IDA are carrying out the study to which I referred.

Mr. J. Gibbons: Does the Parliamentary Secretary not acknowledge that the current situation in which we have to import this product arises directly from the decision of the Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries to dispose of the Lansdowne plant to Golden Vale and to change the plans made by the previous Administration?

An Ceann Comhairle: That would seem to be a matter for another Minister.

Mr. O'Malley: It is true.