LAKELAND Dairies yesterday unveiled a €20m milk powder plant that can customise products for clients, facilitate research and feed excess energy back into the national electricity grid.
The largest non-whey milk drying plant in Europe, the plant has allowed the group to consolidate its entire milk powder manufacturing operations into one site in Bailieborough, Co Cavan. The robotic powder-packing facility also allowed Lakeland to shed 50 jobs back in April.
Lakeland chief executive, Michael Hanley, said: “The new plant will make the business more efficient. We are accommodating all our milk and butter drying into one site. There will also be opportunities to customise new products, for researching and development of new products with our clients. We also have a new CHP unit which will allow us to export energy to the national grid. We have set out our strategy to be the most efficient milk powder facility in Ireland, if not in Europe.”
The plant will have an annual production capacity of 70,000 tonnes of milk powders and 25,000 of butter. The plant’s evaporator alone weighs 55 tonnes. The plant will be able to produce 12 tonnes of powders per hour.
The new facility has been 40% funded by the Government under the National Development Plan. Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Brendan Smith said the plant will help Ireland deliver on its goal of increasing milk output by 50% by 2020, to match predictions for export demand.
“As international dairy markets improve, Ireland as an exporting and globalised economy has a chance to seize this opportunity and to capitalise on it. Lakeland Dairies will be able to compete very effectively in its key export markets and will also access new markets,” Mr Smith said.
Under the Dairy Investment Fund, 19 capital projects were awarded Government grants of €114m. This aid is geared to generate a capital spend of €286m in processing to support the long-term competitiveness of the Irish dairy industry.
Lakeland is Ireland’s second largest dairy processing co-operative operating across 15 counties on a cross-border basis. The co-op collects 800 million litres of milk from its dairy farmers each year for processing into a wide range of dairy food ingredients and dairy food service products which it exports to 70 countries.
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