New dairy co-op, LacPatrick, is pumping £30m into its Artigarvan plant to create up to 15 new highly skilled jobs and position the firm at the forefront of the developing market for advanced dairy technology.
The investment – the largest within the Ulster dairy sector in a generation – will see the Artigarvan site benefit from state-of-the-art dairy processing technology using the recently announced Strabane Gas link as its primary source of energy.
The expansion will create an additional 15 high quality technical posts for the LacPatrick Group, the majority of which will be based at Artigarvan.
As well as securing the circa £2million of wages and salaries the plant currently injects into the local area, it will also underpin the future of the co-op’s 1000 family farm enterprises who supply milk to LacPatrick.
Work has begun already on the site and it is expected it will be fully operational by April 2017.
Tommy Thompson, Operations Director, LacPatrick Group, said: “Our Artigarvan plant has been exporting high quality milk powders for decades to more than 30 countries worldwide.
“Our milk pool is growing rapidly and our members were keen we develop a sustainable and effective facility that will enable them to secure routes to primary export markets.
“We have already established a reputation of excellence and we see this as a real opportunity to push this out even further globally when the Plant is up and running in 2017.
“This is an exciting announcement to make on the back of our recent merger and evidences the strength of the newly combined entities. At the moment LacPatrick injects around £120m annually into the dairy farming community in Ulster and this huge investment – the biggest of its kind in a generation – is destined to secure and further enhance this return to the farming community in the years ahead.
“In our view there has never been a better time for Ulster farmers to grow their businesses, safe in the knowledge that there is local and international confidence in the quality of produce, the demand for which is increasing all the time. LacPatrick is the only processor of milk left in the north west of the island with a direct route to export markets and it is our members who stand to benefit.”
LacPatrick Group Chief Executive, Gabriel D’Arcy, said: “We are delighted to be making this strong statement of confidence that has huge significance for us, our suppliers and our shareholders. This announcement follows the equally exciting formation of LacPatrick and underpins the vision of the respective boards and members of the founding Co-ops.
“This leading edge investment, totally funded by LacPatrick, positions the company competitively at the forefront of the developing market for advanced dairy technology. It is an important part of our measured growth strategy and we anticipate further major announcements during the next five year period as we consolidate our position as a new force within the Irish dairy industry.”
As a result of the new investment, LacPatrick Artigarvan, which currently has a daily processing capacity of one million litres of liquid milk bound for global dairy markets, will be able to increase capacity to 2.5 million litres.
A pioneering new Evaporation and Spray Drying Tower has been specifically designed to make advanced dairy ingredients for the rapidly expanding markets in Europe, Middle East, Africa and Asia and will be accommodated within a new 30,000 sq ft building within the current Artigarvan site.
At its peak the 15-month construction project – to be delivered by a number of local contractors – will provide employment for more than 150 construction workers. The indirect benefit to the local economy is expected to be significant on top of the direct farm payments of £120m and direct labour at the facility - providing a real boost to the economy of West Ulster.