Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster yesterday officially opened Dale Farm’s new best-in-class milk and cream facility at Pennybridge, Ballymena.
The facility is the result of a £10million investment by Dale Farm and Nampak, supported by Invest Northern Ireland, and is part of an overall £39million investment in Dale Farm’s three local production facilities which was announced in 2010.
The new facility includes new high speed milk and cream filling lines, a new inplant plastic bottle blow moulding facility operated by Nampak Plastics Europe Ltd and a new chilled distribution centre.
Speaking at the official opening the Minister said: “This state-of-the-art facility, which is now the company’s chilled distribution hub for Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, will significantly strengthen Dale Farm’s capacity and capability to compete in export markets.
“It provides a cost-competitive, high-hygiene operation that will support the company’s growth in sales. The inplant bottle blowing partnership with Nampak, which will increase the recycled content of the packaging and reduce the company’s carbon footprint, will also deliver major efficiency gains.”
Dale Farm is the largest dairy processing company in Northern Ireland, processing over 400 million litres of milk annually.
David Dobbin, Dale Farm’s Group Chief Executive, said: “This major upgrade of our Pennybridge facility means that Dale Farm now operates one of the most modern dairies in the British Isles, ensuring that we can continue to compete successfully against international competitors. We are also doubling our cheese and whey products output at our Dunmanbridge plant near Cookstown and further developing our Dromona butter and spreads facility at Cullybackey.
“Our investment programme will enable us to develop our sales in more added value dairy products in domestic and export markets. As well as helping to improve the returns to local dairy farmers we have already created over 60 new jobs in Dale Farm and a further 26 jobs in Nampak’s inplant bottle blowing operation.”
The new Nampak Plastics Europe operation at Pennybridge introduces new processing technology to Northern Ireland, which will allow bottles to be filled with milk within one minute of manufacture.