Irish company 1st in world to receive licence to import horse feed into China

Irish animal feed company, Connolly’s RED MILLS, 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.”


For more detail contact:

Joe Connolly, MD Connolly’s Red Mills, phone +353 87 6008900

Michael Connolly, Bus. Dev. Director, Connolly’s Red Mills +353 87 2460066


Neans McSweeney, Senior Account Manager, MD Media, 086 2620355


About Connolly's RED MILLS

Nestled in the scenic countryside in Goresbridge, County Kilkenny, Connolly's RED MILLS was established in 1908 by Michael Connolly. In the early years the company took grinding grain from local farmers for resale, and expanded and installed a porridge oats processing plant for human foods.

In 1963 the company began processing cereals for animal feeds. When the late horse race training legend, Paddy Mullins, called to the Mill to discuss an eating problem he was having with one of his  horse's,  the then Managing Director Liam Connolly made a formula to encompass all the nutritional requirements of the horse. He then cooked it to make it more appetising and digestible.

The results were astounding and the horse, Vulpine, went on to win the Irish Grand National and Powers Whiskey Gold Cup. This was the first real step in Connolly's RED MILLS becoming a leading global player in equine feed and horse nutrition.

Since 1997 Connolly’s RED MILLS has expanded its operations in the UK and the USA. It has additionally acquired two smaller companies in Ireland; E. Morrin & Sons Ltd and Rothwell Grain & Seed Ltd. In 1999 Connolly’s RED MILLS built a new state-of-the-art Pet Food manufacturing facility, Rednut, located 5 km from the Connolly’s RED MILLS site.

RED MILLS continues to innovate, and invested in NFMS (Nutrient Fresh Management System) manufacturing equipment in 2008. This pioneering technology is a world first and uses seven tiers of natural preservation to maintain perfect freshness for up to twelve months.

This technology allows Connolly’s to offer the benefits and efficiencies of complete diets to new markets that hither to could not get such a choice of affordable, good quality feed.”

One of its latest and most exciting projects is the "super fresh" NFMS™ - nutrient fresh management system for even better product quality.

Transport can account for 20-30% of feed product costs. By vastly extending shelf life with NFMS™, customers can now order bulk quantities and reduce transport costs, without affecting the quality of the feed.