The introduction of the new NZ$240m (US$173m) plant – doubling the cooperative’s capacity to produce its individually quick frozen (IQF) mozzarella – will make Fonterra Clandeboye the largest producer of natural mozzarella in the Southern Hemisphere.
Robert Spurway, chief operating officer global operations, says demand for this mozzarella from China and other parts of Asia continues to grow as more consumers seek out natural dairy products.
“It is the only process of its kind in the world that can significantly reduce production time while still remaining 100% natural – something our customers and their consumers place great value in,” Spurway said.
“Once this expansion is complete, Fonterra’s mozzarella sales will have increased by more than 60% since 2008 when the first IQF plant was built.”
Reduced production time
The innovation behind the IQF mozzarella reduces the processing time from three months to just six hours.
The technology, developed by the Fonterra Research and Development Centre, has been supported by Transforming the Dairy Value Chain – a Primary Growth Partnership (PGP) program between the Ministry of Primary Industries, Fonterra and DairyNZ.
Spurway said prioritizing value add investments is central to the cooperative’s strategy.
Growth of Western fast food
Fonterra chief operating officer global consumer and foodservice Jacqueline Chow said Fonterra’s IQF mozzarella is already topping more than half the pizzas in China.
She noted that 40% of people in urban China now eat at Western style fast food outlets once a week, and the use of dairy in foodservice has grown by more than 30% in five years.
“We see massive growth potential and our teams in the market are continually working to grow this valuable part of the business as we work towards foodservice becoming a $5bn business by 2023,” Chow said.
Work has already begun on the expansion, with the first product destined for markets due to come off the line in September 2018.
More than 1,000 people will be involved in the project during this time, with the plant creating full time employment for 100 people in and around South Canterbury.