Britain’s First Milk to produce more cheese and whey following US$15m capacity expansion

UK – British dairy cooperative First Milk has announced plans to invest £12.5 million (about US$15 million) in two cheese and whey production sites in the UK.

According to the dairy cooperative, the capital investment will provide additional processing capacity to meet the growing needs of customers in the UK and export markets.

A significant proportion of the investment will go towards the expansion of its Lake District Creamery in Aspatria, Cumbria.

The Cumbria facility will receive £9 million ( about US$10.86 million) for the installation of new high-capacity cheese blockformers, as well as new water, milk, cream and whey handling processes, according to a statement from the company.

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This marks the fourth stage of a multi-year investment at First Milk’s Lake District site since 2019, totalling around £14 million.

Previously, the facility has seen the installation of new rapid chill stores and upgrades to its milk processing equipment.

“What’s more, this capital spend enables us to reduce energy and water use, helping us to meet our ambitious First4Milk environmental targets and reinforcing our commitment to sustainable dairy.”

helagh Hancock, CEO of First Milk

Meanwhile, the company’s Haverfordwest Creamery will receive a £3.5 million (about US$4.22 million) capital injection for a new chilled-water plant and upgrades to the whey process.

The new investment comes on the heels of an £8 million (about US$9.65 million) investment at the site.

The investment which was completed last year included a new cheese tower, separators, milk silos and a combined heat and power plant.

With these new projects, First Milk says it has invested around £30 million (about US$36.20 million) in its cheese production sites over the last three years, increasing the processing capacity of both sites by over 20%.

“We are committed to investing in our processing facilities to continuously drive operational efficiency, product quality and sustainability,” Shelagh Hancock, CEO of First Milk, said.

Hancock noted that the new investment programme will unlock additional capacity, whilst helping us further enhance our award-winning product quality.

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“What’s more, this capital spend enables us to reduce energy and water use, helping us to meet our ambitious First4Milk environmental targets and reinforcing our commitment to sustainable dairy,” the CEO of First Milk added.

In 2019, First Milk became the sole owner of the whey protein concentrate manufacturing facilities at the Lake District creamery, after acquiring Fonterra’s 51% stake in the companies’ Fast Forward joint venture.

Earlier, the British dairy cooperative announced that  its creamery at Haverfordwest has hit two sustainability milestones recently.

December 2020 saw the creamery, based at Merlin’s Bridge, send zero food waste to landll for the first time, with all such waste going to anaerobic digestion plants.

In addition, the amount of water recovered from processing activities reached 50% of all water used at the site.

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