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Connolly's Red Mills secure China deal

Article Date: 16-April-2012

Connolly’s Red Mills, a family-owned company based in Goresbridge, Co Kilkenny, has become the first in the world to secure a licence to import horse feed into mainland China.

The Department of Agriculture, today (Monday, April 16th), signed the agreement for the animal feed licence with Chinese officials in Beijing during the Agri Services Trade Mission to China being led by Minister for Agriculture, Food and The Marine, Simon Coveney TD.

The deal – which is potentially worth several million euros - gives first mover advantage to the Co Kilkenny-based company which now becomes the first and only foreign feed company to be licenced for the import of horse feeds into mainland China.

Connolly’s Red Mills horse feeds are already well known to many of the leading stables in the world. Over one hundred group one, grade one, or grand prix events have been won by horses fuelled by their products in the last season.

“We embarked on the Chinese registration process in 2007 and are delighted to see it come to fruition today. Although the Chinese horse market is still emerging, there is considerable potential and advantage for us by being first past the post.” according to Connolly’s RED MILLS Managing Director, Joe Connolly.

The family owned company, which has been in business over 100 years, has a strong presence in Asia. It is established in six Asian markets since it started exporting to Japan in 2006. China now becomes Connolly’s RED MILLS’s 37th export market globally.

According to Joe Connolly, the Chinese want to be at a global standard not just economically, but also in sport.“The demand for world class services for sports horses is growing in China.

Red Mills, as a supplier to many of the top stables in the world, can now offer the Chinese horse owner the most advanced performance nutrition and quality standards; particularly for anti-doping controls and product shelf-life.”

Red Mills success in becoming the first foreign feed to sell into China will help the Irish horse industry in its drive to become a supplier of top horses and horse related products into the country, which has a population of almost 1.3 billion and is expected to become the world’s biggest economy by 2020.

The one hundred million Euro group employs 200 people at its plant in Goresbridge and at export offices around the world including the UK, Sweden, France, Japan and Malaysia.

The company uses the most advanced technologies and processes in making its feeds. It’s range of export products are packed using their unique Nutrient Fresh Management System (NFMS) to prolong shelf-life in warm climates. It is the only feed company to utilise LCMSMS in its on-site laboratory which tests for product quality and Naturally Occurring Prohibited Substances (NOPS) to parts per billion.

NOPS occur naturally (such as morphine traces in poppy seeds) and can find their way into the animal via the food chain. Connolly’s testing technologies are the same as those used by the Olympic Council and forensic bodies around the world. It screens samples for seven key NOPS: caffeine, theobromine, morphine, hordenine, atropine, scopolamine and lupinine.

“This is what makes us a world leader in horse feed and this significant step into the Chinese market is something we are very excited about” said Joe Connolly.

While betting on racing is still not allowed in China, nevertheless over US$2.5B has been invested in race tracks all over the country in the last ten years.

“It is very difficult to estimate the value of this business, but the potential for Red Mills as first mover could be very significant.” commented Joe Connolly.

He added: “We owe a great debt of gratitude to the officers of the Irish Department of Agriculture, Enterprise Ireland and the Department of Foreign Affairs who have helped us across the line.”

More on this story in The Irish Field on Saturday. Online from 10.30pm Friday

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