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Arla to gauge African milk powder demand with portable packaging unit

By Mark Astley+

02-Aug-2013

Arla's mobile milk powder packaging unit will be powered by nearly 100 solar panels.
Arla's mobile milk powder packaging unit will be powered by nearly 100 solar panels.

Arla Foods has announced plans to ship a custom-made mobile packaging facility to Africa to test the level of demand for its powdered milk products in the “potentially huge growth” market.

The Swedo-Danish dairy cooperative intends to send the 90 square metre mobile milk powder packing unit, which is fashioned from three 40 foot shipping containers, first to the Ivory Coast in West Africa.

Arla has heralded the portable packing unit a “flexible” way of assessing the level of demand for its milk powder products in these untapped African markets.

The mobile milk powder packaging facility will be shipped from Denmark to Abidjan in the Ivory Coast this month, where in cooperation with a local partner it will sell milk powder in small consumer-friendly sachets.

Arla expects the mobile facility to be fully up and running by October.

Opportunities in Africa?

Depending on the success of the project in the Ivory Coast, the mobile packaging unit could be shipped elsewhere in Africa, an Arla Foods spokesperson told DairyReporter.com.

“In Africa, Arla Foods currently has a presence in Nigeria. Now we are looking at the opportunities that lie in the Ivory Coast, and the growth opportunities in other countries in Africa,” said the spokesperson.

“Once we have trialed the mobile packing unit in the Ivory Coast, we will evaluate its success and discuss whether we want to try it out elsewhere.”

Arla identified Africa as an area of growth in its latest five-year plan, Strategy 2017, which was published in January 2013.

Under the strategy, Arla intends to increase its focus on growth markets such as Russia, China, the Middle East and Africa between now and 2017. The company intends to build on the export potential held by these markets through co-operation with local industry, the development of distribution networks, and investment in marketing.

“Africa presents a potentially huge growth opportunity for us," the Arla spokesperson added.

Add water, drink milk

Arla's packaging unit is decorated with cleaning-friendly vinyl on the interior ceiling, walls and floors, all fitting and weldings are designed to protect the unit from insects, and the container’s ventilation system ensures an indoor maximum temperature of 25 degrees Celsius.

The company also fitted 96 solar panels to the roof of the unit – making the facility self-sufficient in terms of energy, and able to deliver 12 hours of production time each day.

The unit is capable of handling 40 25kg sacks of milk powder at a time.

These sacks are then emptied into a large funnel, which send the milk powder into a packing machine. The powder is packed into metallic sachets in measurements of 25g – the exact amount of milk powder needed for one glass of milk.

“The idea is that they buy the sachet of milk powder, put it in a glass, add water, and they have a glass of milk,” said the Arla spokesperson. “This way of consuming milk is more typical in Africa because of the temperature. This trial will measure the level of interest in our milk powder in the Ivory Coast.”