SPAIN – Ornua, an Irish dairy firm has opened a €30 million (US$33.39m) cheese production facility in Ávila, Spain to greatly enhance Ornua’s pizza cheese making capacity and capability while securing its position as a major global pizza cheese supplier.

The new facility has a capacity to produce 35,000 tonne of mozzarella and pizza cheese, which the company plans to double in the next years.

The new facility has been built on the former Ornua cheese manufacturing site, opening two years since that site was destroyed by a devastating fire. 

The reopening of the Ávila facility also marked the creation of Ornua Ingredients Europe which brings Ornua’s Spanish and UK Ingredients businesses together. It will supply cheese and dairy powder ingredients.

The investment in the facility, which employs over 120 people, included a major expansion and processing technology upgrade.

As a result, the company said that the Ávila facility is now equipped to play a major role in Ornua’s growth strategy of diversifying its product portfolio and building scale: reinforcing Ornua’s position as a major supplier of mozzarella and pizza cheese blends.

The new facility also features a R&D Centre of Excellence with a pilot plant and innovation kitchen dedicated to developing the next generation of pizza cheese and cheese ingredients for the US$130 billion global pizza market. 

Its technology will enable the company to provide a wide selection of mozzarella and mozzarella-based cheese blends.

It also features innovative Individual Quick-Freezing capability, an in-line cooling system and the latest technology to produce pizza cheese ropes for the growing ‘stuffed crust’ sector of the market.

Speaking at the opening, John Jordan, Ornua CEO said, “Today’s opening of our new cheese facility here in Ávila is fully in line with Ornua’s growth strategy of investing in world-class strategic production facilities to secure long term returns for Irish dairy farmers. 

“This major investment will play a key role in enhancing our cheese ingredients capacity and capabilities.  It will reinforce our position as a leading, large scale supplier of high-quality dairy ingredients to many leading Spanish, European and global food manufacturing and food service customers.

“Our new Avila R&D Centre of Excellence becomes the 10th innovation centre in our international network, which will ensure that Ornua has the capability to support our customers at the forefront of the rapidly changing dairy ingredients market.”

Led by newly appointed Managing Director Joan Bombardo, Ornua Ingredients Europe incorporates Ávila and Ornua’s UK Ingredients businesses, giving it a turnover in excess of €300 million, four well-invested processing and NPD facilities and 600 employees.

Headquartered at its Nantwich UK facility, the firm said that the Ornua Ingredients Europe will have the scale and resources, combined with the agility and flexibility, to identify and meet the ever-changing needs of its customers and their consumers.