Fonterra expansion takes mozzarella to the world

New plant staff enjoy a pizza made with fresh Clandeboye Mozzarella. From left, Zarea Laing, Quentin Cavanagh, Veronica ...
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New plant staff enjoy a pizza made with fresh Clandeboye Mozzarella. From left, Zarea Laing, Quentin Cavanagh, Veronica Put, Jason Balchin and Cameron McKeown.

Diners across China, Asia and the Middle East will soon be chomping down on pizzas topped with our very own mozzarella.

Work on the new mozzarella plant at Fonterra's Clandeboye site near Temuka in South Canterbury has now been completed. The upgrade which cost $72 million and took two years to complete, is part of Fonterra's wider strategy to build on strength in foodservice.

Cream cheese production at Te Rapa has been doubled, the Waitoa UHT site was recently commissioned and Fonterra also has plans to expand slice-on-slice cheese capacity at Eltham.

Fonterra's managing director of global operations, Robert Spurway said the co-operative has seen growth in consumer and foodservice categories and the Clandeboye expansion will form a key part of that success in the future. 

"The expansion at Clandeboye is a great example of our V3 strategy in action," Spurway said.

"Foodservice products such as cheese give a high value on return and, thanks to our strength in research and development, we're able to cut months off the production time of this mozzarella to deliver on our velocity proposition. The additional capacity will bring volume to that equation."

This expansion doubles the capacity of the Clandeboye plant to produce individual quick frozen grated mozzarella. Enough mozzarella will be produced to top more than 300 million pizzas a year.

"Fonterra's premium performance mozzarella is world-renowned for its outstanding stretch, excellent melt and very characteristic 'New Zealand' buttery flavour," Spurway said.

Clandeboye site manager Steve McKnight said the mozzarella – one of the co-op's most sought after cheeses – is destined for global pizza and pasta restaurant chains across China, Asia and the Middle East where the cheese is gaining popularity.

"We're seeing the popularity of cheese really take off in Asia, so the timing of this upgrade couldn't be better," McKnight said.

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"There is increasing international demand for our mozzarella as dining options become more diverse. Western chains and restaurants are expanding across these regions and consumers are increasingly choosing foods like pizza and western-style bakery products."

McKnight also said "there is a growing middle class in a number of these geographies with people having a greater disposable income, supporting growth in demand."

"We are also not fully represented across the geographies. As our global reach expands so does the demand we experience."

To meet the increasing demand for mozzarella, Clandeboye will operate 24 hours with 25 new jobs created.   

"Upgrades in technology has condensed what was traditionally a three month process producing the mozzarella into six hours," McKnight said.

"Clandeboye uses a manufacturing process that was developed by the Fonterra Research and Development Centre. This world-leading patented technology means that frozen natural shredded mozzarella can be made straight from milk in one day, rather than three months taken by conventional mozzarella processes. This is a great example of the type of process and product technology development work being undertaken by Fonterra."

Fonterra is driving further enhancement of this technology in partnership with the Ministry for Primary Industries, through the Primary Growth Partnership (PGP) initiative.

Milk is being supplied by winter milk farmers in Southland, Canterbury and Otago who have been offered a premium of $1.40 per kg MS (less transport costs) to supply for a six week period from June 1 to July 15 2015.

 - Stuff

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