Fonterra milk powders

Fonterra, the world’s fourth-biggest dairy company, started the construction of its third powder plant (drier) at its existing Pahiatua site in New Zealand in December 2013.

Located on Pahiatua Mangahao Road in Mangamutu, New Zealand, the plant produces milk powder, butter, cheese, casein and other dairy products. It processes 1.4 million litres of milk daily and has an annual processing capacity of 55,000t of milk powder.

"The Pahiatua plant has an annual processing capacity of 55,000t of milk powder."

The new drier came online in August 2015 and was officially opened in December 2015. It processes an additional 2.4 million litres of milk a day. The expansion entailed an investment of about $235m.

The facility employed 130 people prior to the expansion, while the expansion created 100 jobs during construction and 45 additional jobs during operations.

Fonterra received approval from the Manawatu-Wanganui Regional Council (MWRC) and Tararua District Council (TDC) for the construction of the new powder plant in 2013.

The co-operative is also currently constructing a new ultra-high temperature (UHT) milk processing plant at Waitoa, New Zealand. It installed the world’s biggest milk powder drier at the plant located in Darfield, Canterbury, in December 2013.

Fonterra Group also operates milk powder plants at Clandeboye, Whareroa, South Taranaki and Edendale in the New Zealand region.

Features and background of the Pahiatua milk processing facility

The plant was opened in 1976 with one drier and another was added in 1990. It was previously the headquarters for Tui Co-operative Dairy Company.


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It can store 9,000t of milk powder, which can be transported later in containers by road or rail. About 1.6 million litres of milk powder a day is transported to Whareroa Village, during peak hours, by train.

The facility collects about 600 million litres of milk for a season (August-June) from the three local farms at Northern Hawkes Bay, Southern Wairarapa and Wellington. The processed milk powder is transported by 27 tankers.

The plant features a fully automated lights out packing system, automated guided vehicle (AGV) systems and a train shunter, which loads rail wagons with the milk products.

Expansion details

The new drier is the first in New Zealand to use the self-condensate reusing method. It is based on advanced energy-efficient processing technology.

The expansion also included construction of an additional boiler, an expanded drystore and a new wastewater treatment plant.

The farm irrigation and farm management services were also expanded and the transportation services (road/rail/vehicle movements) at the site were improved.

Sustainability and quality measures at Pahiatua milk processing plant

The facility is ISO 14001 certified and meets the international standards of sustainability. It is also ISO 9001: 2008 certified and implements hazard analysis and critical control points (HACCP) plans and a variety of product safety risk management programmes to ensure product quality.

The wastewater produced from the facility is transferred to the three local farms, for use in farm operations.

An economiser and a heat recovery system were installed at the plant in 2013 to decrease gas consumption by 5%. Recycled materials are used by the plant to reduce the impact on the environment.

Marketing commentary for Fonterra

Feadquartered in New Zealand, Fonterra Cooperative Group operates dairy plants in more than 100 countries worldwide. It employs 17,300 people and generated revenue of NZ$19.8bn ($16.32bn) in 2012.


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