Fonterra invests in new drinks plant

Fonterra new plantFonterra Cooperative Group has invested in a new production line at the Hawke’s Bay site of Apollo Foods that is capable of being used separately by both companies to produce dairy and fruit-based drinks.

Apollo Foods, which was incorporated in 2013, was set up “to explore ways to add value to the significant volume of process grade apple available in the region,” according to the NZ Food Innovation Network website.

Apollo gained support from the network through technical funding from Callaghan Innovation. The NZFIN said the processing technology was chosen “due to its scalability, flexibility and the ability to achieve the required shelf life under ambient conditions”.

A trial was then conducted with formulations that were trialled using “Xenos aseptic filling technology” with a bottling facility that can produce bottles for both companies. At the same time, a project was underway to develop by-products from juicing and stage two of that research was aimed at the launch of “a range of textured beverages, smoothies and functional products”.

A spokeswoman for Apollo said the initial release of new products would be fruit juice based. Ross Beaton is a founder and managing director of Apollo. BayWa-controlled T Global bought a half stake in Apollo Foods in 2014 for $1 million before selling for an undisclosed sum in 2016. That acquisition was in addition to a $44.1m deal to buy Apollo Apples from the Beatsons.

Fonterra and Apollo didn’t wish to discuss the financial terms of the arrangement, which will see them both making use of the production line and sterile bottling facility, a Fonterra spokeswoman said, confirming that the two companies had made a joint investment in the plant.

Both companies will launch new products made on the production line. For Fonterra, that will mean dairy drinks under new and existing brands. It will produce newly formulated Mammoth brand dairy drinks, which will be ultra-heat treated (at another plant), extending its life to six months from the current fresh-dairy limit of 10 days.

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