When the definitive book on Irish entrepreneurship is written a chapter will be dedicated to Alastair McGuckian. He may even be on the cover. Together with brother Paddy, he founded far
Long-term economic goals in Algeria include diversifying the economy away from a reliance on hydrocarbon exports, bolstering the private sector, attracting foreign investment and providing jobs for its youthful population.
Over the years Algeria’s reliance on oil revenues has put agricultural development at the mercy of external factors. Improving the capacity to produce processed dairy goods could generate notable investment and relieve its reliance on dairy imports. Algeria is the largest dairy consumer in the Maghreb region and one of the world’s biggest importers of milk powder, second only to China.
With a dairy policy that has relied on milk powder imports to secure supply since the early 1970s, the development of an efficient chain using local raw milk has not yet been achieved. Whole milk powder is imported from New Zealand, Argentina and France. Cheese is imported from the Netherlands, Ireland, New Zealand and the US.
Algeria has an annual need of five billion litres of milk. It currently produces two billion domestically and has to import the rest as powdered milk to be reconstituted. An Algerian dairy products manufacturer told attendees how keen he is that quality be improved as the quality of his own cheeses is dependent on his ability to access good quality raw milk.
Bringing Algeria to self-sufficiency in dairy will be a long-term engagement that could offer multiple opportunities for Irish suppliers – from the initial set-up of ensuring cattle feed to the high end production of infant formula many years from now. That is exactly what Alastair McGuckian helped achieve with Almarai in Saudi, and it is hoped, is what an Irish consortium of dairy suppliers today could help facilitate in Algeria.
Paul Maguire is Enterprise Ireland manager for Italy, Morocco and Algeria