June 14, 2016


Fonterra opens cheese production expansion in South Taranaki, New Zealand


Fonterra celebrated the official opening of its new slice-on-slice cheese expansion at Eltham, South Taranaki, New Zealand, with the plant now able to produce enough cheese to fill more than three billion burgers each year.


The expansion opening, which was attended by Fonterra farmers, staff, and central and local government representatives, was officiated by Whanganui MP, Hon. Chester Borrows and South Taranaki District Council Mayor Ross Dunlop, along with Fonterra CEO Theo Spierings, director David MacLeod and managing director (global operations) Robert Spurway.


The first cheese marks the 10-month completion of building and installing two new lines that will double the site's sliced cheese production. The new individually wrapped sliced cheese line was completed last year. 


Spurway said the new line will help the Co-operative to be more responsive to customers' requirements. 


"Each of our customers has slightly different requirements and uses for the cheese we make for them, and this additional capacity will allow us to meet more than 350 different product specifications – that's 350 very exacting recipes," Spurway commented. "For example, one of the things McDonald's tests us on is how quickly they can peel the cheese off the block. Our ability to consistently provide above their brand standard of quality is what makes us a preferred supplier."


He added that the expansion supports the Co-operative's growth in foodservice and is helping drive Fonterra's V3 strategy. 


"We are using more of our farmers' milk in higher value products, and the production of three and a half tonnes of cheese every hour shows how fast our new plant enables us to do this.


"It's great to see the worldwide reach this site has – if you pick up a burger in China, the Middle East or Africa, you could be experiencing a little taste of Eltham," Spurway remarked.


According to Fonterra's director for global foodservice, Grant Watson, the expansion, along with recent ones at Waitoa UHT, Te Rapa Cream Cheese and Clandeboye Mozzarella, are part of the Co-operative's strategy to keep up with growing global demand.


"As tastes become more westernised, particularly in Asia, we are seeing a big increase for ingredients to make products such as burgers, pizza and pasta. Globally, foodservice is growing at 6% annually and expansions such as this one at Eltham help us to capitalise on that growth," Watson said.

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