Next month Arla Foods is scheduled to start production on a new £15M facility at its Stourton dairy in Leeds, which will feature the world’s biggest milk container weight filling machine.
Stourton currently has the capacity to produce 550M litres of milk a year: 350Ml of standard product and 200Ml of Cravendale, a branded fresh milk product with extended shelf-life, which has now achieved sales of over £110M a year. The new plant will enable standard milk output to be raised to 450Ml a year.
Increased capacity is necessary to take the output from Arla’s Manchester dairy at Wythenshawe, which is undergoing phased closure. This is expected to be completed in January 2009 with the loss of around 300 jobs. Arla’s dairies at Hatfield Peverel in Essex and Ashby-de-la-Zouch in Leicestershire will absorb the rest of the output from the Manchester Dairy.
The facilities at Stourton include additional fillers, which bring to seven the number installed - five for standard milk and two for Cravendale - and nine extra milk silos with 250,000l capacity. The weight filling machine is capable of filling 250 four-pint containers a minute or 150 six-pint containers.
Last week, Arla Foods’ parent announced its half-year results from January to June 2008, which showed a net profit of £50.63M.
Arla chief executive Peder Tuborgh said: “We anticipate that 2008 will be more profitable than 2007, however the market will be more volatile with frequent price variations - partly due to the elimination of the EU’s regulatory mechanisms. The pressure on prices will be maintained during the second half of the year.”