The line, made in Japan by Shikoku for Creditonvs plant in Devon, can fill containers at a rate of 14,000 litres an hour and is billed as the UK’s fastest filling line.
The company said the development would help meet increasing demand for its existing ESL products, which command a 40–90 day shelf-life through ultra-high temperature (UHT) treatment and other methods.
It would provide a strong platform for the launch of a range of innovative new milk drinks planned over the next 18 months, it said.
It added that it was working with packaging partner Elopak to improve the efficiency and flexibility of the new line and tailor it to handling a range of carton sizes and designs.
“The installation of this new filling line is an important part of our strategic plan for the growth and development of Crediton Dairy,” said Crediton Dairy md Tim Smiddy, in a company statement about the investment.
“It gives a further major boost to our processing capacity and capabilities and, most importantly, will equip us with the necessary balance of scale and agility to respond to the needs of customers and consumers alike.”
“Since 2010 the dairy has benefited from c. £10M of investment in new processing equipment and plant upgrades and this is allowing us to deliver high levels of processing efficiency, product quality and customer service.”
The announcement of the plans for ESL milk drinks underlined comments made last year by Smiddy.
“We now have listings for ESL flavoured milk in Morrisons and we’re in discussions with a number of other retailers,” Smiddy told FoodManufacture.co.uk last August. He said protein fortified drinks held potential for growth.
Milk Link bosses Smiddy and Neil Kennedy took over Crediton Dairy from Arla in May last year in a management buyout. EU competition authorities required Arla to sell Crediton after its 2012 merger with Milk Link.
Crediton has a turnover of about £70M, an annual capacity of 200M litres and claims a 35% share of the British long life milk market.
It makes Moo Flavours milk drinks, as well as branded products under licence for other manufacturers, such as Flora pro activ, Mars Family Refuel and Galaxy chocolate milk.