Arla details Settle factory development in Lactofree move

By Rod Addy contact

- Last updated on GMT

The decision to move Lactofree production to the UK was in response to demand rocketing for free-from dairy products
The decision to move Lactofree production to the UK was in response to demand rocketing for free-from dairy products

Related tags: Dairy, factory design & Maintenance, Finance

Arla Foods UK has confirmed the creation of production, warehouse management and quality control jobs and investment in processing equipment, filling lines and packaging facilities at its Settle factory as it begins Lactofree milk production.

The initial shift in production of the brand from Denmark and Sweden to the UK as part of a new £25m investment was revealed by The Grocer in January last year​.   

Arla confirmed on 22 July this year that the new jobs would be created in frontline roles, with half of them already being filled by people from the local area and a further 25 to be recruited over the next two to three years.

A significant proportion of the investment would also be ploughed into new production equipment, filling lines, packaging facilities and a new energy centre, which would improve the overall efficiency of the site, the company said.

Production capacity to double

Settle’s production capacity would double because of the investment and the Yorkshire site, which previously mainly produced UHT milk would produce its full range of lactose-free milk products, Arla said.

The dairy cooperative said it had shifted its Lactofree operations to North Yorkshire as demand for free from dairy products continued to rise in the UK. According to figures from retail analyst Kantar, the free from dairy category was worth just £392.6m in 2017, had almost doubled in value to £756.1m as of April 2021 and was set to double again by 2026.

“We are particularly pleased to start the production of our Lactofree ranges in Settle, where we’ve had a presence for more than 40 years,"​ Arla UK’s managing director Ash Amirahmadi said.

Arla part of biochar project to combat carbon emissions

Meanwhle, a consortium of eight organisations, including Arla Foods UK, has been awarded funding as a part of the government’s Direct Air Capture and Greenhouse Gas Removal Technologies competition​.

The project will test the feasibility of using biochar commercially in agriculture. Biochar is a highly stable form of carbon produced by heating biomass in a low-oxygen environment through pyrolysis. The process takes the carbon sequestered by the trees and converts it into biochar in a pyrolysis unit, which can then be distributed to farms and stored in the soil for over 500 years.

The consortium believes if biochar became commonly used across agriculture, it could remove significant amounts of carbon from the atmosphere and store it in farm soils for centuries, whilst also supporting soil health.

Forestry and sawmilling business BSW involved

The plan would entail BSW, one of the largest forestry and sawmilling businesses in the UK, creating biochar for use on Arla farms, either by mixed with slurry prior to application on fields or through bedding systems.

Global dairy company Arla Foods is a co-operative owned by 9,400 dairy farmers, 2,241 of whom are British. It has production facilities in 11 countries and sales offices in a further 30 and its products are sold under brands such as Arla, Lurpak and Castello in more than 100 countries.

Related topics: Dairy, Operations, Processing equipment

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