Dale Farm investing £70m into cheddar processing site

By Bethan Grylls

- Last updated on GMT

L - R Dale Farm's Fred Allen, chair; Nick Whelan, group chief executive; and Chris McAlinden, group operations director. Credit: Dale Farm
L - R Dale Farm's Fred Allen, chair; Nick Whelan, group chief executive; and Chris McAlinden, group operations director. Credit: Dale Farm

Related tags Investment

The Northern Ireland dairy cooperative has announced one of the largest ever investments the region has seen from an agri-food company, as it expands its cheese site in Dunmanbridge, Co. Tyrone.

The £70m investment comes off the back of years of successive growth for Dale Farm, as its market continues to expand with the Dunmanbridge site already exporting to 40 countries worldwide.

Group chief executive for Dale Farm, Nick Whelan, says the investment will support further growth, positioning Dale Farm as a leading cheddar player across Europe.

“Dale Farm has built a strong reputation as a leader in cheddar production, and thanks to our reputation for quality, sustainability and consistency, we are seeing strong customer growth in the category,”​ Whelan added.

“Key to our success is the dedication and ingenuity demonstrated on a daily basis by our team right across the business. We are already exporting to 40 countries, and with this investment we want to build on that momentum and future proof our operation at Dunmanbridge for decades to come.”

The expansion to the Dale Farm site is already underway and on track to complete next February. As well as improving and replacing existing site-wide services and utilities, the investment will see the installation of a new high speed automated cheese slicing line, an increased warehouse footprint, and new patented products and processes.

The site’s cheese capacity will increase by 20,000 tonnes per year following the work, whilst also expanding its whey protein concentrate capacity. Together with the new production processes, the roll-out of more advanced energy efficient technologies will also reduce the site’s carbon footprint by around 4,500 tonnes per annum, when compared against milk powder production.

“We want to continue to lead the sector in Northern Ireland and beyond and cement our region as a global leader in quality, sustainability, and innovation. We have been granted a patent for cheddar produced at the site and are onboarding new technologies and digital transformation,”​ added Whelan.

“We’re also investing in sustainability and as a result of this expansion our carbon footprint will see a significant reduction, marking another important milestone on our journey towards net zero.”

To date, the Dunmanbridge site directly supports more than 1,100 families in the local area, with 345 employed at the facility and a further 760 farms (out of Dale Farm’s 1,280 milk producers) supplying milk to it.

Whelan concluded: “The sustainability and profitability of our farmers and their businesses are at the heart of every decision we make as a cooperative. Thanks to the success of our strategy and growth, we are in a position where we can make an investment of this scale while continuing to pay a competitive milk price.

“This investment will be transformative not just for Dale Farm, but for the Northern Ireland rural economy. We have big plans for the future and are looking forward to the next step of this journey.”

Related topics Dairy

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