Fonterra confirmed today that production of whey protein and lactose began at its plant in the Netherlands, established in partnership with Dutch cheesemaker A-ware Food, on January 1 2015.
A-ware Food and Fonterra agreed to establish the separate but "mutually beneficial" neighbouring plants in Heerenveen in March 2013.
Operations at Aware Food's adjacent cheesemaking facility began in December 2014.
Whey from the cheese plant will be supplied to the neighbouring Fonterra plant, where it will be processed.
Fonterra expects to produce around 5,000 tonnes of whey protein and 25,000 tonnes of lactose at the plant each year, which Fonterra and its customers will use to manufacture paediatric, maternal and sports nutrition products.
Fonterra' European sourcing efforts in 2011, when it formed a joint venture with British dairy processor, First Milk.
It later partnered with Lithuanian cheesemaker, Rokiškio, and A-ware Foods, before launching NZMP europro - a whey protein ingredient sourced from its European partners - in November 2013.
Months later it partnered with British processor, Dairy Crest, to produce and market demineralized whey powder and galacto-oligosacchride (GOS).
In a statement today, Theo Spierings, CEO, Fonterra, said its plant in Heerenveen "further strengthens" its ability to meet the needs of its "priority markets and global customers."
“Fonterra has substantial intellectual property in the manufacture of functional whey protein ingredients and had been looking for some time for a source of high quality whey to enable us to commercialise these innovations," he said.
“Our partnership with A-ware Food Group fits well with our strategic priorities aimed at increasing the volume and value of our ingredients and branded products," he added.