The major cross border dairy co-operative, Lakeland Dairies, has opened a new £ 28 million technologically advanced milk powder plant at Lakeland Dairies, Bailieboro, Co. Cavan.
The new facility is among the most advanced milk powder plants in the world and one of the largest such plants in Europe.
A farmer owned dairy processing co-operative, Lakeland Dairies processes over 1.2 billion litres of farm produced milk annually into 240 value-added dairy foodservice products and food ingredients for export to over 80 countries worldwide.
The Irish Minister for Agriculture, Michael Creed opened the new plant together with Alo Duffy, Chairman of Lakeland Dairies, the Board and regional committees of the co-operative and Group Chief Executive, Michael Hanley.
The event forms part of a series of open days where hundreds of Lakeland Dairies milk supplying farmers from north and south, and their families, are also visiting the new facility.
With 2,400 dairy farmers supplying milk to the co-operative across 15 counties north and south, Lakeland Dairies employs over 800 people.
The co-operative also operates a major Global Logistics Centre at its foodservice manufacturing site in Newtownards, and acquired Fane Valley Dairies in Banbridge last year.
This is Lakeland Dairies’ third milk drying plant at its Bailieboro processing centre. It will now produce over 160,000 tonnes of milk powders and 50,000 tonnes of butter annually on the same site, which allows great flexibility in milk throughput and overall economies of scale for the food ingredients business.
The development by Lakeland Dairies is designed to ensure that the co-operative is well positioned to take advantage of all future market opportunities for its milk producers.
The expansion saw the installation of a new 7 tonne per hour milk dryer and evaporators where total milk powder production capacity has now increased to 20 tonnes per hour.
The plant has the highest levels of efficiency including heat recovery systems and its energy centre can also supply power back into to the electricity grid.
Lakeland Dairies’ Chairman, Alo Duffy said: “With this new facility Lakeland Dairies will compete at the forefront of the global dairy food ingredients industry. This development will underpin our further progress in a rapidly changing world of international trade where we have a heritage of over 120 years in dairy farming and an unstinting commitment to making the most excellent dairy products for all of our customers.”
Lakeland Dairies’ Group CEO Michael Hanley said: “Our strategy is to create long term competitiveness and sustainability for all of our milk producers, north and south, and to meet the long term needs of our valued customers in the global food industry where we see constant demand for our products. We have created a culture of innovation and excellence across our entire organisation which will continue to drive the business forward.
“In particular, we are addressing opportunities in the areas of infant formulas, dairy proteins, food manufacturing and health related nutritional products, among other categories, where we are already a globally recognised leading supplier of powders.
“Globally, we have long standing customers who want consistently high volumes of our product on a sustained and growing basis into the future.”