Dairy group set to create 15 new jobs in Co Tyrone with £30m move
Recently merged dairy industry co-op, LacPatrick Group, has announced a £30m investment at its Co Tyrone plant, creating 15 new jobs.
Work has already begun on the expansion of the factory at Artigarvan, near Strabane, and is expected to be complete by April 2017.
Around 150 people will be employed by a number of contractors during the 15-month construction phase and the factory will use the new Strabane gas link as its primary source of energy.
The Artigarvan plant currently employs 50 people and processes a million litres of liquid milk every day, bound for global dairy markets.
The investment will take capacity to 2.5m litres a day.
A new 30,000 sq ft building will house a specially designed evaporation and spraying tower to make advanced dairy ingredients for rapidly expanding markets in Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Asia.
Tommy Thompson, operations director at LacPatrick Group, said: "Our Artigarvan plant has been exporting high quality milk powders for decades to more than 30 countries worldwide.
"Our milk pool is growing rapidly and our members were keen we develop a sustainable and effective facility that will enable them to secure routes to primary export markets.
"We have already established a reputation of excellence and we see this as a real opportunity to push this out even further globally when the plant is up and running."
LacPatrick was formed from the recent cross-border merger of Northern Ireland's oldest co-operative dairy, Ballyrashane Creamery in Coleraine, and the Town of Monaghan Co-op, which is based in Coolshanagh, Monaghan.
It was the operator of the Artigarvan plant, which has been in existence since 1902.
The merger became effective in September. At the time, LacPatrick said it believed that the size and scale of the new company would make it "a powerful new force in the Ulster dairy sector".
Referring to the new factory at Artigarvan, Mr Thompson said: "This is an exciting announcement to make on the back of our recent merger and evidences the strength of the newly combined entities.
"At the moment LacPatrick injects around £120m annually into the dairy farming community in Ulster and this huge investment - the biggest of its kind in a generation - is destined to secure and further enhance this return to the farming community in the years ahead.
"In our view there has never been a better time for Ulster farmers to grow their businesses, safe in the knowledge that there is local and international confidence in the quality of produce, the demand for which is increasing all the time."
And he added: LacPatrick is the only processor of milk left in the north west of the island with a direct route to export markets and it is our members who stand to benefit."