Lac Patrick’s new technology investment to boost exports
Dairy co–operative LacPatrick has unveiled a new operation in Northern Ireland that will allow it to process milk on both sides of the Irish border, especially for a growing number of customers in Great Britain. The company has seen a surge of business in Britain as food manufacturing companies there increasingly turn to local suppliers in advance of Brexit.
LacPatrick has created a 30,000 sq ft dairy technology centre that it describes as “one of the most innovative and modern facilities of its kind in the European dairy industry”.
Costing over £30 million, the new facility at its Artigarvan plant, near Strabane, in county Tyrone, houses new evaporation and spray–drying technology capable of making advanced dairy ingredients for LacPatrick’s expanding markets in Britain, other parts of Europe, as well as the Middle East, Africa and Asia.
LacPatrick chief executive Gabriel D’Arcy, says the new facility will allow the dairy, which also has operations in Monaghan in the Republic of Ireland and Coleraine in Northern Ireland, to produce up to 12 tonnes of dried dairy ingredients an hour up from five tonnes previously, and process 2.5 million litres of milk a day on the site, up from one million previously.
It currently processes around 600 million litres of milk from farm suppliers in both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland and can sell every litre processed.
“The rationale behind the new investment is to increase processing capacity to enable us to meet the growing demand for existing products, such as milk powders, and to develop new products,” he adds.
The new facility has one of the lowest carbon footprints of its kind in Western Europe and has more than doubled LacPatrick’s capacity to meet the demands of emerging markets As a result of this investment, LacPatrick is now the largest producer of spray dried milk in the UK and is now completely self–sufficient to process its own milk pool and able to assist other creameries with additional milk during peak season.
The new dryer has been proven to produce a range of unique and innovative dairy ingredients such as instantised powders and low spore powders. The uniqueness of the new equipment allows the dryer to continue producing powder 24 hours a day for up to 28 days without stopping where the existing dryers must be washed every 20 hours, making it vastly more efficient.
LacPatrick was formed in July 2015 by the merger of two of Ireland’s oldest dairy co–operatives; Town of Monaghan and Ballyrashane at Coleraine in county Derry. As well as milk powders and liquid milk, LacPatrick also produces butter and cheese.