One of the most technically-advanced global export facilities in Europe was officially opened by Lakeland Dairies in Newtownards, Co Down, yesterday.
The €10m Global Logistics Centre at the co-op’s Pritchitts dairy food service manufacturing site has been supported by Invest Northern Ireland with an offer of £1.5m (€2m).
It positions Newtownards as a key strategic site which provides employment for over 200 people from the community.
Lakeland Dairies, a farmer owned co-op operating in 15 counties, collects over 800,000 litres of milk directly from Northern Ireland farmers every day and over one billion litres of milk north and south each year.
The north’s Enterprise Trade and Investment Minister Jonathan Bell, who officially opened the plant, praised the willingness of management and members to invest in important technology.
It was a clear statement of intent to drive increasing export growth and to create a business model that will offer jobs and security throughout the dairy supply chain for years, he said.
Lakeland group chief executive Michael Hanley said its mission is to create long-term sustainability for its milk producers through value-added processing and export led growth.
“This requires the right economies of scale, the most competitive processing plants in the industry and the achievement of total efficiency across all of our operations,” he said.
The Newtownards site has 12 production lines making over 100,000 tonnes of dairy products and 700 million individual product units each year.
Fully automated with new technology, robotic systems and over 14,000 individual pallet spaces, the centre has a loading capacity for up to 11 12m container vehicles at any one time.
Lakeland Dairies recently announced a €36m investment in a new milk powder plant at Bailieboro, Co Cavan, to be completed in 2016.
It and Fane Valley co-ops have embarked on two strategic joint ventures across their combined dairy and agribusiness operations.
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