New Zealand-based dairy cooperative Fonterra plans to build two new cream cheese plants at its Darfield site in Canterbury with an investment of NZ$150m ($116m).

The construction of the two facilities will be carried out in two stages, with the first plant expected to be completed by next August, and the second by 2020.

The dairy co-operative will invest NZ$100m ($74.4m) in the first plant, which will feature innovative technology and create 30 new jobs once it becomes operational. A total of NZ$50m ($37m) will be invested in the second plant.

Each of these facilities will be able to produce up to 24,000Mt of cream cheese a year for export.

"It’s another marker in our strategy to continue delivering better returns to our farmers."

Fonterra global foodservice director Grant Watson said: “What’s really promising are the trends we’re seeing in cheese, butter and UHT over the years, not just in the sale of dairy products, but how they are being consumed. Particularly as the major urban centres in China shift away from oils, people are actively seeking more dairy in their diet whether in their cooking, as a table spread or in a glass.

“In markets like China, where dairy hasn’t traditionally been a staple, there are fewer pre-conceived notions around how it should be eaten, and with that, we’re seeing remarkable versatility in their dairy applications.

“Arguably some of the most innovative dairy product development anywhere in the world is happening right now in China and, through our Anchor Food Professionals team and their engagement with our customers, we’re playing an integral role.”

Upon completion of the project, Fonterra’s Darfield site will become one of the largest producers of cream cheese in New Zealand.

Fonterra global operations chief operating officer Robert Spurway said: “This is not just about expanding our capability in manufacturing; it’s another marker in our strategy to continue delivering better returns to our farmers."

Image: Fonterra Darfield manufacturing site. Photo: courtesy of Fonterra Co-operative Group.

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