Fonterra’s new plant in Canterbury, New Zealand, has started production and is set to manufacture up to 24,000 metric tonnes of cream cheese annually, bound for China.
The dairy cooperative said it is responding to changing demands among Chinese consumers for Western foods. The 20kg blocks of cream cheese from the newDarfield site will meet a demand for bakery goods, like cheesecakes and cheese tarts.
The unit forms part of a NZD 150 million ($112 million) investment announced last year to build two cream cheese plants at the Darfield site. It is expected the second unit will be completed in 2019 or 2020.
Susan Cassidy, general marketing manager for global foodservice at Fonterra, believes a growth in China’s middle class, rapid urbanisation and changing consumer tastes have contributed to an “explosive growth” in the number of consumers wanting New Zealand dairy.
“People in China want natural dairy products they can trust in their baked goods. That’s great for Fonterra and New Zealand,” she said.
Research by Euromonitor International has predicted that China will overtake the US as the world’s largest dairy market by 2022.
Fonterra COO of global operations Robert Spurway said the plant forms an important part of the cooperative’s strategy to keep up momentum in producing more value-added products for its consumer and foodservice business.
“Today, one in four litres of milk from New Zealand is sold to China – that’s the equivalent of 3.4 billion litres a year,” he said. “Our focus is on creating the highest return from each of those litres.
“The new plant will enable us to convert more milk to high-value cream cheese, which is in popular demand. We’re really proud of our technology which alters the firmness and consistency of cream cheese according to customer preference. It’s a technology first and a huge competitive advantage.”
The completion of the site comes just two weeks after Fonterra appointed Miles Hurrell as its interim CEO, replacing outgoing chief executive Theo Spierings.
Last October, the dairy cooperative announced that its foodservice business, Anchor Food Professionals, generated more than NZD 2 billion ($1.44 billion) in annual revenue over the previous year.
© FoodBev Media Ltd 2019