Belfast Telegraph

Dale Farm bottles plan for growth

By Margaret Canning

Dairy processing in Northern Ireland received a major vote of confidence yesterday with news of 60 new jobs and a £39m investment, the biggest ever to be poured into the sector.

Dale Farm, part of United Dairy Farmers, said it was investing £36m and creating 43 new jobs in a bid to boost export sales. Its three plants in Cookstown and near Ballymena will benefit.

The investment will also secure 215 jobs — and the company hopes it will stimulate external sales worth £37.5m a year for the next four years.

At £4m, the project has also secured Invest NI’s biggest ever support to a dairy company.

In a linked announcement, plastic bottles maker Nampak Plastics said it was spending £3.25m on a new bottle in-plant facility at Dale Farm’s Pennybridge site in Ballymena, creating 17 new jobs.

Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster visited Dale Farm’s Cookstown factory yesterday, to open a £5m cheddar-making facility marking the first phase of the investment.

She said: “This £36m investment by Dale Farm is of strategic importance not only to the company but also to the dairy sector. It will give the company the capability to increase exports and the potential to process new and innovative products to meet the ever changing demands of customers and consumers.

“In addition, the decision by Nampak Plastics to invest in a new milk bottle in-plant facility will bring benefits to Dale Farm, Nampak and the wider dairy sector. Nampak is one of Europe’s largest manufacturers of rigid containers to the food and drink industry. Its plant in Ballymena will see the largest liquid milk in-plant blow-moulding facility in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. This new base will help Nampak explore its export opportunities. Both investments are a vote of confidence in the future of both the dairy industry and the agri-food sector by everyone involved.”

David Dobbin, Dale Farm group chief executive, said: “This major investment programme will help us to successfully compete in more added value dairy categories and to further develop our capability to supply major retailers and foodservice and ingredients customers in Great Britain and the Republic of Ireland.”

Belfast Telegraph