Fonterra's Te Rapa investment strengthens local economy
Fonterra's $20 million expansion is helping feed Hamilton's growth.
Demand for dairy products in Asian markets has seen the co-op add new machinery to its Te Rapa factory on the outskirts of Hamilton.
A new, sweeter-than-usual mascarpone is in demand in Japan and new production lines will give Fonterra the capacity to deliver up to 3500 tonnes of cream cheese and up to 400 million individual butter portions per year.
The investments are aimed at adding value to the company's already thriving export empire, said Fonterra Te Rapa operations manager Scott Nelson. It's a move away from bulk products to higher-value consumer products.
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"Our team has been very agile in terms of identifying opportunities at the market and then thinking about ways to meet that capacity gap and delivering against that," Nelson said.
Fonterra employs about 500 people at its Te Rapa operation and in the past four years, 35 jobs have been created. About 100 people will work in the cream-cheese division.
The high-tech machinery will be up and running by the end of the year and requires a greater skill set from workers.
"The level of skill required will definitely increase," he said. "These are very sophisticated machines we are dealing with."
Fonterra's spend comes at a time when Hamilton's stocks are rising and the population is expected to rise with it - to 194,200 by 2033.
Two major inland ports are in the making, Waikato Innovation Park is looking at a $180m growth, a new riverside theatre is planned, the rugby Sevens series has a home in Hamilton, 8100 homes are destined for the Peacocke subdivision and there is the proposed Waikato medical school.
Hamilton West MP and Minister of Exports Tim Macindoe said Fonterra's contribution is significant.
"I am particularly excited. They are constantly diversifying their product because clearly you can't just keep growing the herd. You have got to diversify," Macindoe said.
He was joined on an early tour of the new facilities while they were still under construction by Hamilton Mayor Andrew King, Hamilton City councillors Garry Mallett, Siggi Henry and Dave Macpherson and Hamilton City chief executive Richard Briggs.
King said the high-value jobs created by Fonterra's investment will flow through the region's economy.
"It's not minimum-wage type positions, they are very high-paying positions, they employ the best, highly qualified people," King said.