Lakeland's £5m investment packs a punch with royal visit
FARMER-owned co-operative Lakeland Dairies in Newtownards has spent £5 million on a new automated packing facility, which has been formally opened by the Princess Royal.
The state-of-the-art facility further enhances the capabilities of the site, which plays a key role in the food-service division of Lakeland Dairies.
It is part of an overall £27m investment by Lakeland in Co Down over the last decade and follows the opening in 2015 of a major new global logistics centre in Newtownards, which is among the most technically advanced global export facilities in Europe.
The co-operative has a particularly strong track record of international sales growth as a result of investment and innovation, with exports from Northern Ireland worth £170 million a year.
Further growth is predicted over the next five years, with a particular focus on Asian Pacific, Middle Eastern, African and American markets.
Lakeland Dairies brings together more than 750 family farms producing 600 million litres of high-quality, sustainable, pasture-based milk in Northern Ireland.
The co-operative employs 225 people at Newtownards and the operation supports some 700 further jobs among suppliers and contractors across the north.
Its chairman Alo Duffy said: “Our driving aim is to create a vibrant and sustainable future for co-operative dairy farmers and to support them with the highest possible milk prices in line with market conditions. We're intent on promoting the wellbeing of rural communities and the environment.
"The opening of these excellent new facilities by the Princess Royal provides great encouragement for our co-operative ideals of Better Farming, Better Business and Better Living for all of our milk producers and the provision of exceptional service and delivery for our customers throughout the world.”
Lakeland collects more than 1.7 million litres of milk directly from Northern Ireland dairy farmers each day and over 1.2 billion litres of milk a year across the whole of Ireland.