Spanning one and a half years, the project will enable the Aalter unit to develop into a “state of the art factory”, according to the company.
Hugo Verhaegen, managing director of FrieslandCampina Belgium said, “It’s not going to be a rush job, as the high-tech nature of our production process means we have to put a lot of thought into how we want to refurbish while still guaranteeing the highest quality.”
“We will also be producing a range of products in Aalter and we want to focus on socially responsible operations,” he said.
Since the merger of the Royal Friesland Foods and Campina to form Royal FrieslandCampina in December 2008, the company said it is now focusing on the expansion of its Belgian facilities.
Last year FrieslandCampina invested in its Lummen (Belgium) production unit. Investments will also be made this year in Bornem (Belgium), the company said.
Sustainability will be an important priority in the expansion plans, said the firm.
A spokesperson for FrieslandCampina told DairyReporter.com the Aalter site has recently acquired the ISO 14001 certificate (the internationally recognised standard for the environmental management of businesses).
“The new machinery in Aalter will also be energy efficient, in order to lower our greenhouse gas emissions,” she said.
Expansion of product range
The Aalter location currently produces dairy brands Joyvalle and Campina for the French, British, German, Dutch and Belgian markets.
However, as part of the new investment, production lines will be transferred from other FrieslandCampina plants to the Aalter unit. In total, 11 new lines will be installed.
As a result, the factory will start producing the company’s Fristi, Cécémel and Nutroma brands in cardboard packaging, and bottles and coffee creamer in single-serving cups.
The firm said it is currently constructing new buildings to house the extra production volumes.
Overall, the move will create employment for 90 people, in addition to the more than 500 staff currently employed at the location.
The spokesperson said the plant is mainly looking for technological profiles such as technicians, team leaders and machine operators.
FrieslandCampina employs around 1,200 people in Belgium and in 2009 recorded a turnover of EUR 523.2 million in the region.