Farmer owned food company Dairygold is to set up a €15.6m (US$18.9m) research and development centre in Mitchelstown, Co Cork, which will see the doubling of their research staff to 30, reports the Irish broadcaster RTE.

The investment was announced by the minister for enterprise, trade and employment, Micheál Martin, and has been welcomed by agriculture minister Mary Coughlan.

The new centre will be operational by 2007 and will also see increased collaboration with Teagasc Moorpark, the National Food Centre and Irish universities.

Dairygold's chief executive, Jerry Henchy, says the company's objective is to lead the way in the development of innovative new value added food products.