The investment will see the installation of an additional high-speed cheese slicing line as well as the further expansion of Ornua’s cheese grating capabilities. The new equipment will result in an additional 7,000 tonnes of capacity, bringing total annual production to more than 110,000 tonnes.
The new investment at Leek comes at a time when Ornua Foods UK is experiencing strong growth in both branded and own label cheese, with sales through major UK retailers increasing by 15% to date in 2020.
The company said it can be partly linked to the change in consumer buying patterns during the Covid-19 lockdown.
Ornua Foods UK’s growth is reflected in the performance of Pilgrims Choice, which has grown by 25% in the last 52 weeks. In addition, Ornua Foods UK’s range of own-label cheddars supplied to retailers such as Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Iceland have contributed to the performance of the business.
Bill Hunter, Ornua Foods UK’s managing director said, "Ornua Foods UK’s success is based upon our commitment to delivering a comprehensive range of high quality products to our retail customers in the most consistent and efficient manner possible. Central to this is our Leek cheese cutting and packing facility, one of the most advanced facilities of its kind in Europe and home to Pilgrims Choice, one of the nation’s most popular cheddar brands.
“Our latest £3m investment at Leek will further enhance our cheese packing capacity and capabilities delivering further improvements in yield and efficiencies, as well as allowing us to respond to growing consumer demand for cheese in sliced and grated formats.
"We believe our current investment and that planned in future years both at Leek and in support of our Pilgrims Choice and Kerrygold brands will continue to give the company a competitive advantage in the marketplace.”