The company is to lodge an application for a second dryer at its Darfield site in Canterbury.
In April last year, Fonterra announced its initial plans to open the new $200m milk processing site, aiming to complete the first stage of the project by 2012.
The co-operative discussed the second stage of the project earlier this week at a community meeting.
This would involve the building of the new spray drying unit, which is competing to be the largest in the country.
One of the main reasons for the new dryer investment is to prepare the co-op’s operations for anticipated milk growth in the region, a spokesperson for Fonterra told DairyReporter.com.
“Darfield is located in the heart of Canterbury’s dairying growth which is increasing at a rate of five per cent a year.”
Fonterra aims to have the installation completed by 2015, when the 650-hectare site is expected to be at full capacity.
The dryer would create 30 tonnes of powder an hour, producing 7.5 million litres a day, said the co-operative.
It would also double the site’s workforce to more than 100.
The dryer is expected to process whole milk powder for delivery mostly to the growth market of Asia, primarily China and Southeast Asia.
The site will be among the largest investments in manufacturing in New Zealand in the past five years, catering for strong milk growth in the area in the future, said Gary Romano, Fonterra’s managing director of Trade and Operations.
“Canterbury is the fastest-growing dairying region in New Zealand. It is now producing about 15 per cent of the country’s milk for export,” said Romano.
The spokesperson said there had been a general improvement in milk production in New Zealand.