Tuesday, July 16, 2024

Dale Farm invests £70m in cheddar production

Northern Ireland dairy cooperative Dale Farm is investing £70m in its cheddar processing facility at Dunmanbridge, Co. Tyrone.

The expansion will mark one of the largest ever single investments by a Northern Ireland agri-food company. The plans will see Dale Farm integrate state-of-the-art technologies and equipment at the site, boosting production and making significant sustainability gains as the cooperative builds on its expertise as a European cheddar manufacturer.

The investment comes on the back of successive years of growth for the cooperative, and in response to continued customer growth across the UK, Europe and beyond, with the site already exporting cheddar to 40 countries worldwide.

Nick Whelan, Group Chief Executive at Dale Farm said the investment will support growth and capability for the cooperative, and position Dale Farm as a leading cheddar player in Europe.

“Dale Farm has built a strong reputation as a leader in cheddar production, and thanks to our reputation for quality, sustainability and consistency, we are seeing strong customer growth in the category,” Nick said.

“Key to our success is the dedication and ingenuity demonstrated on a daily basis by our team right across the business. We are already exporting to 40 countries, and with this investment we want to build on that momentum and future proof our operation at Dunmanbridge for decades to come.”

Work on the expanded operation at Dunmanbridge is well underway and is on track to go live in February 2025. As well as improving and replacing existing site-wide services and utilities, the expansion will include a new high speed automated cheese slicing line, an increased warehouse footprint and investment in new patented products and processes.

The investment will increase the site’s cheese capacity by 20,000 tonnes per year, while also expanding its WPC (whey protein concentrate) capacity. It will incorporate the integration of advanced energy efficient technologies which together with new production processes will reduce the site’s carbon footprint by an estimated 4,500 tonnes per year when compared against milk powder production.

Nick Whelan added: “We want to continue to lead the sector in Northern Ireland and beyond and cement our region as a global leader in quality, sustainability, and innovation. We have been granted a patent for cheddar produced at the site and are onboarding new technologies and digital transformation.

“We’re also investing in sustainability and as a result of this expansion our carbon footprint will see a significant reduction, marking another important milestone on our journey towards net zero.”

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