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£45-50M investment plan for Müller Dairy

By Rod Addy+

09-Dec-2013

Müller Dairy is planning £45-50M worth of investment across its UK business and expects eventually to create up to 100 jobs at its Market Drayton site in Shropshire.

That’s according to ceo Ronald Kers. Speaking to journalists at the opening of the company’s £17M Market Drayton butter plant on December 6, Kers said it aimed to invest further cash next year in Shropshire alone. “We are putting in significant further investment – around £5M of investment.”

Having acquired Nom Dairy’s production facilities near Telford and Greencore’s chilled desserts factory at Minsterley within the past 18 months, Kers stressed Müller Group planned to make substantial investments to develop both sites. “Since we have acquired Minsterley we have almost doubled its volume.”

He said the company continued to be open to further acquisitions. “We are looking for further opportunities and they have been on my radar since I arrived here.”

100 new jobs

He said the butter plant had already generated 24 new jobs and eventually Müller Dairy anticipated the creation of at least 100 new jobs across its Market Drayton operations in the medium term. “As an overall group we will certainly be employing a lot more people across the country.”

Kers said the 1,300m2 butter factory gave the company the ability to turn the large amounts of cream it produced into butter, leaving it less vulnerable to market volatility.

“As a total group we produce more than 110,000 litres of cream. We want to do something with the cream and the butter facility will give us flexibility. In 2012 the cream price collapsed and we were 100% exposed to that. At last we have another option.”

Sizeable cream production

As a consequence of the firm’s sizeable cream production, it could easily supply the butter plant with the raw material required to meet demand for butter from customers, he said.

Kers said it reduced UK reliance on overseas milk imports for the production of dairy products. “We believe our industry can do more to be competitive by investing in facilities like Market Drayton.” The butter plant would also enable the UK to be more competitive in export markets, he said.

His comments were echoed by environment secretary Owen Paterson who also spoke at the butter plant opening.

‘Import substitution critical’

The UK still imported a significant amount of food, he said. “So import substitution is critical and as someone who wants to see quality business from which to build exports, I’m absolutely delighted.”

The factory could currently produce 40,000t of butter a year, Kers told FoodManufacture.co.uk. In the short term it would make butter for foodservice customers, but he said he expected it to branch out into producing retailer own-label butter from summer 2014.

He confirmed that top supermarkets were already showing significant interest. “We wouldn’t have invested in this if we hadn’t got positive feedback from customers.”

In the longer term, the company was looking at developing butter under its own brand. “We expect in the future we could have a Müller-branded offering as well.”

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