The new facility, which was built at the cost of €20m, is located in Bailieboro, Co Cavan, Ireland. With an annual production capacity of 70,000 tonnes of milk powder and 25,000 of butter, Lakeland claims that the plant will reduce processing costs and deliver considerable economies of scale.
“This plant will allow us to benefit from reduced processing costs and the highest quality products, improving our long-term competitiveness and strengthening our worldwide market presence,” said Michael Hanley, chief executive of Lakeland Dairies.
The plant has a particularly high rate of production at 12 tonnes of powder per hour and benefits from investment in some of the latest milk drying technologies.
The filling and packaging system is robotic and the first such system in Europe. Also installed at the plant is an evaporator that weighs 55 tonnes and features an advanced, energy saving heat recovery system.
Lakeland built the new drying plant as the final step in a four year restructuring programme that has resulted in 165 people leaving the company and the closure of three drying plants. With the restructuring behind it and with the new drying facility built, the company believes it is in a position to be highly competitive in the global dairy market.
“With these innovative and advanced new processing technologies, Lakeland Dairies will be able to compete very effectively in its key export markets and will also access new markets,” said Brendan Smith, the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food. Smith commented on the development as the Government provided 40 per cent funding for the new drying facility through its dairy grants scheme.
The Minister added: “It is also important that this development has contributed to dairy industry consolidation and overall enhanced competitiveness and I am pleased to note that this initiative has been supported very effectively by the dairy grants scheme.”
Lakeland is Ireland’s second largest dairy processing co-operative and its business is focused on dairy food ingredients and dairy foodservice products.