The company, which supplies cheese and butter to top UK retailers said the latest investment would entail the installation of an additional high-speed cheese slicing line and further expansion of cheese grating capabilities.
The upgrade would create an additional 7,000 tonnes of capacity a year at the Leek site, bringing total annual production to more than 110,000 tonnes. Further financial spend has been earmarked for the facility in the next few years.
The new investment comes at a time when Ornua Foods UK is recording strong growth in branded and own label cheese, with sales through major UK retailers increasing by 15% to date in 2020.
In particular, Ornua Foods UK said sales of its Pilgrims Choice cheddar brand, had grown by 25% in the past 52 weeks, outperforming the category by 10%. And its range of own-label cheddars supplied to leading retailers such as Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Iceland had contributed significantly to performance.
The business said one big reason for the uplift had been the surge in consumer demand during the COVID-19 lockdown and its effective management, in close collaboration with its customers. It also reflected the longer-term underlying performance of the business and its strategic focus on investing in its capability to produce a comprehensive range of branded and own-label products consistently and efficiently.
"Our latest £3m investment at Leek will further enhance our cheese packing capacity and capabilities delivering further improvements in yield and efficiencies, as well as allowing us to respond to growing consumer demand for cheese in sliced and grated formats," said Bill Hunter, Ornua Foods UK’s managing director.
"We believe our current investment and that planned in future years both at Leek and in support of our Pilgrims Choice and Kerrygold brands will continue to give the company a competitive advantage in the marketplace.”
Ornua Foods UK claims to be the largest supplier of British and Irish cheese in the UK market.