South Caernarfon Creameries has opened its new cheese production with its first production having taken place last week. The new build, which is located at the Creameries’ site in Chwilog, near Pwllheli, has created an efficient, modern and flexible cheese production facility that will enable the famer co-operative to increase capacity from 9,500 tonnes to 12,000 tonnes of cheese per annum.
South Caernarfon’s new unit is the first major cheese production new build in the UK for 40 years and the investment goes against current trends in the UK dairy industry. A report by agricultural consultants Promar International states that the UK dairy industry has the lowest level of investment compared to the 6 largest European exporting countries¹.
South Caernarfon’s new cheese production unit is an all-encompassing facility that will greatly improve operational efficiencies for the co-operative. The new plant will, in turn, allow greater product flexibility, enabling the Creamery to produce different types of cheese to bespoke customer specifications and enable further product innovation for its customers and for the Creameries’ own Dragon brand.
Alan Wyn Jones, Managing Director at South Caernarfon Creameries said “Although it’s currently a very challenging period for both milk producers and processors, it is vital that we continue to invest for the future.”
“Our new cheese factory provides us with best-in-class production facilities that will further support our growth strategy with both existing and new customers. Our objective now is to get the new factory to its full processing capacity as quickly as possible and that will be achieved in partnership with our key customers and our product innovation programme. We have also during last year recruited a number of new Welsh member farmers in preparation for the new production unit.”
As well as safeguarding the current 100 jobs, this investment has also benefited the local community, with the building contract awarded to local company Derwen Llyn of Pwllheli.
South Caernarfon Creameries is owned by its 125 Welsh farmer member suppliers. John Gwynant Hughes, of Ynysgain Fawr, Criccieth, one of its farmer members commented “We are proud supplying members and owners of SCC and are pleased that the business is forward-thinking and investing in our future which gives us as dairy farmers’ confidence in what is a very challenging period”.
If the Company achieves its growth objectives, a second investment phase is planned to be open in the next few years that will further increase cheese production to 17,000 tonnes per annum.
The new cheese production unit will be officially opened in the summer of 2016.