New $120m milk plant creates 100 jobs
About 100 jobs are being created by Fonterra's new processing factory near Te Aroha.
The $120 million UHT milk processing site at Waitoa, between Te Aroha and Morrinsville, will open in the next month or so.
About 70 staff are already working on the plant's testing process.
Donald Lumsden, Fonterra's UHT operations manager, said the development is good news for the area.
Milk processed on the site will be new production for Fonterra.
"They're all new jobs," Lumsden said.
Waikato Chamber of Commerce chief executive Sandra Perry said the factory contributes to the Waikato dairy cluster, along with the new Yashili dairy manufacturing plant at Pokeno.
"Food and protein is what the Waikato region should be about, and this is really adding to that," she said. "We're delighted it's going to create some new jobs."
Lumsden described the site as "state-of-the-art", with new technology improving capacity and efficiency.
Production capacity at Waitoa will be significantly higher than at Fonterra's Takanini UHT processing site. The Waitoa factory will have five production lines, one of which will be able to produce 8000 milk packs per hour. The other four will be able to produce 23,000 packs per hour each.
The site will be capable of producing 100 million litres of UHT milk and cream products per year.
Lumsden expects production to increase to capacity quickly as demand grows in Asia.
"All of what we're producing is going into the Asian market. That's where the growth is," he said.
Destination markets include China, Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam.
The factory is being tested with water to ensure everything is in working order before milk production begins.
"Running water through the processing lines ensures we can vigorously test how the milk and packaging will be processed. It lets us know that the site is ready to begin processing milk," Lumsden said.
He was happy with the speed of construction so far.
"It amazes me that in around 12 months we've got a plant up and running," he said.
"Twelve months ago we were walking around in a paddock."