Mary Harney, Tánaiste and Ireland's Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, opened a €40m production facility in Waterford city on behalf of Diageo Global Supply, on Monday.

The plant has commenced production of the 'essence of Guinness' at the riverside site on Mary Street where brewing has been taking place for more than 200 years.

The essence is exported to each of the 50 countries where Guinness is brewed to ensure Guinness is consistent everywhere it is consumed around the world.

The facility was secured for the city after an extensive review by Diageo Global Supply of potential locations involving both existing and new global sites.

Speaking at the opening, Brian Duffy, managing director, Diageo Ireland said; "The strength of Guinness across diverse global markets is one of the real success stories within Diageo and ought to be a real source of pride to all in Ireland who value the brand's firm roots here.  This historic brewing site is now home to a key ingredient plant where much of what is the 'essence of Guinness' will be produced for both home and overseas markets. This investment further consolidates the very strong presence of Diageo in Ireland."

David Gosnell, managing director, Diageo global supply said: "At full production, this plant will have the capacity to produce the special ingredient for an astounding 550m pints of Guinness per annum.

"The essence produced here will be used by our own breweries and licensed brewers around the world that are involved in creating many of our famous stouts. These include Guinness Draught which we enjoy in Ireland, Europe, the US and Caribbean; and Guinness Foreign Extra Stout, which is especially popular in our African, Asia and Caribbean markets," he said.