Arla Foods UK, the British arm of European dairy cooperative Arla Foods, announced yesterday that processing and packing operations had begun at the new plant despite “finishing touches” still being made.
The facility, once fully operational, will have the capacity to process and pack 1bn litres of fresh milk per year – making it, according to Arla, the largest plant of its kind in the world.
Commenting, Arla Foods UK CEO, Peter Lauritzen, said that the company's investment had set “the future standard" for the sector.
“Our Aylesbury dairy is the largest single investment for the cooperative and, as market leader, Arla is setting the future standard for the dairy industry. We are now beginning to ramp-up our operations,” said Lauritzen.
Most technologically advanced
Arla Foods UK announced its intention to construct a new fresh milk processing facility in November 2009. Construction began in February 2012 following the purchase of a 70-acre site in Aylesbury.
The company said at the time that the investment would create around 700 jobs and a platform for it to expand its fresh milk business.
Within yesterday's announcement, it claimed that the facility will “be the world’s largest fresh milk facility with the most technologically advanced and efficient processing, and an ambition to be zero carbon when it reaches full capacity.”
The £150m investment mirrors Arla Foods UK’s current milk sourcing expansion efforts.
The cooperative currently processes around 3.2bn litres of milk per year, but is looking to expand its supply by an additional 500m litres by 2017 through the recruitment of new farmers and the expansion of its existing supplying farms.
In July 2013, with its new facility at Aylesbury nearing completion, Arla Foods UK announced plans to close its fresh milk processing and distribution facility at Ashby-de-la-Zouch in Leicestershire.
Following the closure of its Ashby-de-la-Zouch site, which has been penciled in for April 2014, Arla Foods UK will transfer the plant's entire processing volume to Aylesbury. The phased transfer of raw milk from Ashby-de-la-Zouch to the new plant in Buckinghamshire was scheduled to commence in October.