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Source: Arla Foods

The investment will allow the dairy co-op to ‘significantly’ increase mozzarella production for export markets

Arla Foods has announced ambitious plans to become a “global mozzarella player” by 2027, backed by a £179m investment at its Taw Valley Creamery in Devon.

The cash injection, which the dairy co-op said represented its largest-ever single investment in the UK, will see Arla undertake a significant upgrade at the creamery and create up to 100 skilled new jobs – adding to the 145 staff already working at the site.

Work to install new technology at the plant would allow Arla to export mozzarella “that can be used for the likes of pizza toppings around the world”, the dairy giant said.

Arla’s mozzarella business has seen a double-digit growth in sales over the past five years. “Through investment into new technology, the business hopes to secure long-term competitiveness in the global market,” it said.

The investment also supported the development of the British dairy industry by facilitating export out of the country – “an inherent issue in the UK today”, it added, pointing to a long-standing imbalance between imports and exports.

Arla said the upgrade would not impact on Taw Valley’s existing cheesemaking operation but was tight-lipped on the increase in capacity that would follow.

“We cannot disclose details about our overall production capacity, but as one of the world’s leading mozzarella producers we are of course talking a significant amount,” a spokeswoman said.

“The capacity at Taw Valley is based on milk supply available, and current and future demand in the market. The decision to invest in the UK means we can utilise the milk pool available – which means we can create new products that will add value to our farmers’ milk.”

Commenting on the announcement, Arla’s recently appointed UK MD Bas Padberg said: “Today is a momentous occasion for our UK business, and we are proud to be announcing this major investment.

“We want to become a major player within the global mozzarella market, but to do this we need to invest in state-of-the-art technology. This is why we will be making major upgrades and changes to Taw Valley Creamery in Devon, which will allow us to sell our mozzarella globally.”

The announcement also highlighted Arla’s support for facilitating increased demand for dairy products globally, Padberg added.

“Exporting our product helps to increase the value of farmers’ milk, which will therefore benefit our farmer owners here in the UK. As one of the biggest food companies in the UK, it is only natural that we look for further opportunities to grow so we can continue to return a fair price back to our farmer owners.”

Arla Foods UK board director, and Arla farmer, Arthur Fearnall said: “We are incredibly proud to see the UK business receive this significant investment. We’re excited to see how the plans at Taw Valley Creamery progress over the coming years, as we continue to work together to ensure all Arla farmer owners receive the best price for their milk.”