Ice cream maker R&R has pumped £13M into developing its Crossgates ice cream factory near Leeds in a bid to expand its range and increase efficiency.
The cash was spent on a 1,520m2, £7M extension, new ice cream stick line and a £6M upgrade to the mix plant, including an automated ingredients handling and storage system, supervisory control and data acquisition and batch recipe control.
The extension has its own ammonia and nitrogen plants, temperature control, freezing tunnel and fully automated packing and shrink wrap system, said group engineering and project manager Dr Ryad Apasa. The new line can produce more than 2M ice cream stick products a week, including two new Thorntons products - Toffee Temptation and Chocolate Trio - that R&R is producing under licence, he added.
Cash has also been spent on a fully automated clean-in-place system plus ice cream ageing silos fitted with valve locks that feed directly to the production line.
The UK's largest ice cream manufacturer by volume, R&R operates a second UK factory at Leeming Bar in North Yorkshire, plus five in Continental Europe.
The Leeds factory, which makes lollies, choc ices and extruded ice cream stick products is launching 21 new products this summer.