Our History

Our food heritage

 

From a small dairy company in the southwest of Ireland to a global multinational in under 40 years, the journey of Kerry tells a story of how belief and vision were combined to create a unique company. 

We’ve stayed close to our food heritage while drawing on expertise and inspiration from all over the world. We’ve created an organisation that is committed to helping delight and nourish consumers across the globe. 

How is Kerry different?  

We’re progressive and innovative with an eye for an opportunity, unafraid of change and constantly seeking better ways of doing things. We’re confident that our first 40 years are only the start of greater things to come for Kerry and all of our stakeholders.

Kerry Group corporate history

1970s

1980s

1990s

2000s

2010s

1972

Began as a private dairy company in southwest Ireland before becoming a dairy co-operative in 1974

Kerrys origins date back to 1972 when three shareholders – the state-owned Dairy Disposal Company, a group of eight small farmer co-operatives in Co. Kerry Ireland and the Erie Casein Company Inc. from the US – committed to invest €200,000 to finance a €1m dairy processing facility in Listowel, Co. Kerry.

The aim was to manufacture milk protein (casein) for export to the US.

Then known as North Kerry Milk Products Limited (NKMP), the company had a workforce of 40 people and a turnover of €1.3m.Kerry in the 1970s. A black and white photograph of a milk truck in the 1970s.

The following year, Kerry bought the state-owned Dairy Disposal Company including its interests in NKMP and its creameries. Kerry also acquired six of the eight independent co-ops, which held 42.5% of NKMP. This new private company became a subsidiary of the newly formed Kerry Co-operative Creameries Ltd (Kerry Co-op), which began trading in January 1974.

Kerry started out as the smallest of Ireland's six major agricultural co-operatives in 1974, with sales in that year of €29m. From 1974 to 1979, Kerry expanded its milk business. The new co-op acquired the independent Killarney, Limerick and Ballinahina Dairies in 1978, which later became part of Kerry's Dawn Dairies, along with Galway and Moate Dairies.

1983

Kerry establishes a presence in the United States and United Kingdom

It was clear that if Kerry was to continue to grow and develop, it would need to reduce its reliance on dairy products and diversify into more value-added activities.

In 1980, a five-year plan was defined and agreed. Research and development became a priority, overseas offices were opened and the search for suitable acquisitions began. Firstly, Kerry Co-op diversified into the convenience meat products business with the acquisition of the Denny pork and savoury products business in Ireland.

Kerry made its first incursion into beef processing on the home market. 1983 was an important year for Kerry Co-op when it decided to establish US and UK headquarters, opening offices in Chicago and in London.

Kerry in the 1980s. A black and white photograph of Kerry staff in the 1980s.

The Erie Casein Company's interest in NKMP was acquired, along with its customer base in the US. This allowed Kerry to begin carving a niche into the specialty food ingredient sector. At this stage, Kerry's milk protein was being used in many premium food products, generating far greater value and profit. Accordingly, Kerry advanced its diversification programme and established a foothold in the food ingredients area, while also concentrating on R&D to drive new product development.

1986

Kerry Group became the first public company in Ireland to be to be formed from a co-operative.

By 1985, Kerry was moving fast with sales of €268m and pre-tax profits of €6.5m. But it was obvious that to fund the future growth and development of the organisation, the corporate structure would have to be changed. 

Kerry in the 1980s. A black and white photograph of Kerry staff in the 1980s.

In October 1986, a public offering of shares in Kerry Group plc was made at €0.66 (IR 52 pence) per share. These were listed on the Dublin stock exchange.Consequently, the concept of Kerry Group plc emerged, and Kerry took significant steps towards becoming an Irish multinational.

Kerry opened its first overseas food ingredients manufacturing plant in Jackson, Wisconsin in 1987, and the following year acquired Beatreme Food Ingredients, the premier specialty food ingredient supplier in the US market. The acquisition of Beatreme opened up markets for Kerry throughout the world and provided a platform for Kerry’s growth and development into a leading global food ingredients corporation.

1998

European expansion and foothold established in Latin America and Asia Pacific

The European customer base was bolstered with a major expansion in 1998 when Kerry acquired the food ingredients division of Dalgety (DFI) in Europe.

With pan-European manufacturing facilities located in the UK, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Hungary, Poland and Ireland, the DFI acquisition significantly advanced Kerry's position in food coatings, batters, flavours, seasonings and bakery applications to European food processing and foodservice channels.

Kerry entered the Latin American market in 1993 with the acquisition of Basic American. The expansion in the region would continue throughout the 1990s with the acquisition of the Star & Arty business and also a factory from Nestle in Tres Coracoes, Brazil in 1998. Kerry strategically advanced its position in Asia Pacific in 1998 with the acquisition of the Mauri and Pinnacle ingredients businesses of Australian food group Burns Philp and Co. Ltd.

2001

Expansion in Asia

In line with continuing strong market growth in the Asia Pacific region, Kerry opened new state-of-the-art manufacturing facilities in Johor Bahru, Malaysia in 2001, serving as an important platform for the group's expansion in the dynamic and fast-growing markets of China, Japan, Singapore and Indonesia.

2004

Global Functional Ingredients & Actives platform developed

Kerry's global acquisition of Quest in 2004 brought with it an extensive product portfolio including hydrolysed proteins, bio-ingredients and emulsifiers. This was the start of our range of specialty functional ingredients and actives delivering customised texture solutions that optimised the overall taste experience for consumers.

2009

Global Technology & Innovation Centre opens in Beloit, USA


Kerry in the 2000s. The exterior of the Global Technology and Innovation Centre in Beloit, Winconsin.

Beloit, Wisconsin is home to Kerry's North American Technology & Innovation Centre. Opened in 2009, the 250,000 square foot Centre allows customers to work side-by-side with Kerry's teams to develop unique, innovative products that can be delivered quickly and which can differentiate their offerings in the marketplace.

The Centre was the first of its kind for Kerry and laid the foundation for other Development & Application Centres and Technology & Innovation Centres across the globe, including the Global Centre in Naas, Ireland, which opened in 2015. The Beloit Centre is home to nearly 700 employees and houses a number of research and development labs, customer collaboration areas, Kerry's Taste & Nutrition Discovery Centre and a fully equipped technical centre with manufacturing equipment replicative of both Kerry's and our customers' production environments.

2011

Kerry opens centre in Mexico

In 2011, Kerry opened its LATAM region Technology & Innovation Centre in San Juan del Rio. Boasting industry-leading R&D labs, pilot plants and application suites, it provides in-market collaboration and engagement with our customers in the Latin American market.

2013

Regional Development & Application Centre opens in Dubai, UAE

Kerry’s Regional Development & Application Centre in Dubai opened in October 2013 and serves our customer base in the Middle East, North Africa and Turkey. Key categories of focus include culinary and dairy, sweet and cereal and beverages.

2014

Global Technology & Innovation Center opens in APAC; Regional Development & Application Centres open in EMEA

Kerry's Asia-Pacific Technology & Innovation Centre opened in Singapore in late 2014. This state-of-the-art facility located in Biopolis – a biomedical research hub in Singapore – is home to nine development and application laboratories, two customer suites, as well as research and sensory capabilities.Kerry in the 2010s. The interior of the Global Technology and Innovation Centre in APAC.

Kerry's Regional Development & Application Centre in South Africa was opened in Durban in May 2014. The Centre is host to a complete team of experienced food scientists, technologists, chefs and flavourists, combined with marketing expertise to deliver innovative concepts and solutions.

Kerry's Regional Development & Application Centre for Russia & Eastern Europe was opened in Moscow in October 2014. The Kerry Centre serves our expanding global, regional and local customer base in Russia, Eastern Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS).

2015

Global Technology & Innovation Centre opens in Ireland; Kerry affirms commitment to Taste & Nutrition

Opened in early 2015, Kerry's €100m investment in the Global Technology & Innovation Centre in Naas, Ireland, provides a focal point for us to advance our scientific research, innovative processing technologies and market-leading technology platforms.

Bringing together our experts from across the EMEA region, this location enables us to collaborate, share knowledge, continuously improve processes and drive functional excellence.

Home to the Nutrition Discovery Centre, it offers a unique, interactive experience that provides a deep understanding of the latest market trends and consumer insights across key life stages. It also provides scientific and regulatory information, across the nutrition and general wellness markets.

Kerry in the 2010s. The exterior of the Global Technology and Innovation Centre in Naas, Ireland.

2015 also saw a shift from Kerry's longstanding reputation as an ingredients and flavours company to a more holistic provider of Taste & Nutrition to the global food, beverage and pharmaceutical markets. We are responding to an ever-changing marketplace where consumers want to live better, feel better and eat better.

Learn more about Kerry's Taste & Nutrition market positioning