The dairy company said it will manufacture up to 24,000 metric tonnes of cream cheese every year for the Chinese market.
Robert Spurway, COO of Global Operations at Fonterra, said the new cream cheese plant will play a vital part in producing more value-added products for its consumer and foodservice businesses.
“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. 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,” Spurway said.
The 20kg blocks of cream cheese from Darfield will meet growing demand for bakery goods, like cheese cakes and cheese tarts.
Susan Cassidy, general manager marketing, global foodservice, Fonterra, said China’s middle class growth, rapid urbanisation and changing consumer tastes have resulted in a surge in demand for New Zealand’s dairy products.
“People in China want natural dairy products they can trust in their baked goods. That’s great for Fonterra and New Zealand,” she said.
Darfield’s acting site operations manager Shane Taylor said Fonterra hired 30 new employees to work at the cream cheese plant.
“Most of the team have learnt everything from scratch. They’ve gone from classroom to practice to real life commissioning of the site,” Taylor added.