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Operations set to begin at NZ$120m Fonterra UHT milk plant

Fonterra's NZ$120m ($99m, €73m) Waitoa UHT plant is on track to produce its first batches of Asia-destined Anchor brand long-life milk and cream in March – just over a year since plans for the facility were first revealed.

New Zealand-based Fonterra, the world's largest dairy exporter, announced earlier today that it is applying the final touches to the new facility at its existing Waitoa site. It has also begun water commissioning - testing all processing and packaging elements using water.

“Running water through the processing lines ensures we can vigorously test how the milk and packaging will be processed,” said Fonterra UHT operations manager, Donald Lumsden. “It lets us know that the site is ready to begin processing milk.”

Once fully operational, Fonterra claims that the plant’s five UHT processing lines will produce 95m litres of Anchor brand UHT white milk and UHT cream each year – the equivalent of “24,000 UHT packs per hour, seven packs per second.”

"Well-positioned" for UHT growth

Plans to construct the new plant at Waitoa were first announced in February 2013. 

Speaking then, former managing director of Fonterra's NZ Milk Products, Gary Romano, highlighted the global opportunities that lie in UHT dairy. 

“The global demand for UHT is growing by around 3.3% per year, and with around 20% of the world’s population living without access to electricity UHT is a safe, and longer-lasting food option which doesn’t require refrigeration,” said Romano.

Mirroring Romano's comments, Lumsden said that Fonterra's investment and the subsequent increase in UHT production leaves it "well-positioned" to meet growing Asian demand for shelf stable dairy products.

“This is a very exciting time for Fonterra,” said Lumsden. 

“The global demand for dairy is growing and we’re now well-positioned to meet this growth with our new state-of-the-art UHT milk processing site at Waitoa. The site will enable us to optimize the milk our farmers produce by turning it into high-value consumer products that will meet market demand in Asia.”

“The site’s technology means we can produce up to 24,000 milk packs an hour per line, they will be flying off the line,” he added.

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