New TINE cheese plant in Norway set to export to South Korea

By Jim Cornall

- Last updated on GMT

TINE's dairy at Storsteinnes in Balsfjord. Pic: TINE
TINE's dairy at Storsteinnes in Balsfjord. Pic: TINE

Related tags Tine South korea Cheese Norway jarlsberg

Last week, the Norwegian Minister of Agriculture and Food, Sandra Borch, was in Troms to cut the ribbon at the reopening of TINE's major investment in northern Norway.

The almost 100-year-old dairy at Storsteinnes in Balsfjord has been upgraded and expanded, at a cost of NOK230m ($26.3m).

CEO of TINE, Gunnar Hovland, said the investment is an important one for both TINE and Norway. He said it means new opportunities are opening up, goat's milk production is enhanced in the north of the country, and the company is committed to the region.

The plant, which is located 90 kilometers outside Tromsø, has now also received approval from South Korea to export brown cheese to the Korean market.

TINE said this is good news for the 55 employees at the dairy in Balsfjord, for the 75 goat milk producers in northern Norway, and also for the local communities in northern Norway in general.

Parts of the goat's milk produced on the goat farms go to the production of one of Norway's most traditional products, Gudbrandsdalsosten. This is also the flagship of TINE's Asia initiative.

Sigmund Bjørgo. director of new international growth, said the brown cheese has been very well received in Korea and in 2021 the company exported almost 100 tonnes of brown cheese originating from Gudbrandsdalen. Most is sold in restaurants, but Bjørgo said there is a positive trend in sales in stores as well.

The dairy at Storsteinnes is now also approved for export of all types of brown cheese, white goat cheese and other cheese produced at the plant.

Bjørgo said the approval is an important milestone in what is a long-term focus area for the farmer-owned cooperative, where Jarlsberg has so far been the major international investment.

“It takes time to establish completely new markets and we must build stone by stone. Korea is first out, but also other Asian markets will in the long run be relevant for the export of brown cheese, but also other products based on Norwegian milk,”​ Bjørgo said.

“The goal is to create greater value for the almost 9,000 dairy farmers who together own TINE.”

Currently, the dairy at Storsteinnes receives 28m liters of cow's milk and 7m liters of goat's milk a year. The production is approximately 2,600 tonnes of white cheese and 2,600 tonnes of brown cheese a year. Through the investment, capacity will increase to be able to process an additional 11m liters of cow's milk.

Related topics Manufacturers Cheese Emerging Markets