News | May 14, 2024

Britain's Biggest Dairy Company Commits To The Future Of UK Food Production With Major New Investments

Arla Foods pledges more than £300M to five UK sites on the day of Farm to Fork Summit

On the day of the UK Farm to Fork Summit in Downing Street, Britain’s biggest dairy company has given a major boost to UK manufacturing and the future of British dairy by pledging to invest tens of millions in its production sites. From Scotland to the West Country, new investments at four of Arla’s sites bring its total UK investment commitments in 2024 to over £300M.

In addition to previously announced plans for its Taw Valley site, Arla Foods will update and expand its dairies and creameries at Lockerbie, Stourton, Aylesbury and Westbury as it looks to create more opportunities for British milk and cheese production.

The cooperative, owned by thousands of European dairy farmers, including around 2,000 in the UK, currently operates nine production sites across the country making a range of milk, butter, cheese and other dairy staples. The investments will see significant upgrades that secure the future of its sites and ensure they can continue producing world-leading products whilst adding the most value possible to the milk from its farmer owners. In Taw Valley, the investment will allow the business to capitalise on the potential for export around the world.

Bas Padberg, managing director of Arla Foods UK, comments: “What this means is that our farmer owners are investing in UK food security – as they are not only producing our milk, but they are backing this investment in our production sites. Dairy plays a significant role in the UK economy, with sales of dairy products exceeding £8B*. On the day of the Farm to Fork Summit we are delighted to set out plans for continued vital investment in our business worth tens of millions of pounds, ensuring the UK remains at the forefront of food production and keeping the nation’s favourite dairy products on our supermarket shelves.”

Fran Ball, vice president for production at Arla Foods, comments: “We are wholly committed to UK manufacturing to ensure we continue to produce the nutritious dairy products that are a staple in millions of fridges across the country. The investments will allow us to make significant upgrades across our portfolio, making our facilities fit for the future of dairy production here in the UK.”

Arla Foods UK board director, and Arla farmer, Arthur Fearnall, said: “We are incredibly proud of today’s announcement, which helps to futureproof the production of British dairy. We’re excited to see how the plans across our sites progress over the coming years, as we continue to work together to ensure all Arla farmer owners receive the best price for their milk.”

The investments illustrate the cooperative’s long-term commitment to producing cheddar at the Lockerbie Creamery and to continuing to produce award-winning cheese. New technology and significant upgrades will be implemented to allow the site to expand and grow over the coming years.

At Arla’s site in Stourton, the upgrades will expand Arla’s capabilities in extended shelf life (ESL) milk, particularly the Cravendale and BoB brands, as well as introduce a capability to supply milk in cardboard cartons. ESL is a filtered milk which stays fresher for longer, helping shoppers to reduce their food waste. As a result of the investment, the site will produce enough additional milk to fill the equivalent of 560 million bowls of cereal.

Aylesbury, which is the UK’s biggest fresh milk site producing more than 1 million bottles of milk daily, will get additional automated box packing capabilities, allowing customers to have greater flexibility with packaging formats.

Today’s announcements come following the news in March that Arla will invest £179M in state-of-the-art technology at its Taw Valley creamery, creating 100 new jobs and enabling the business to export mozzarella that can be used for the likes of pizza toppings around the world. Further export opportunities will be explored after today’s announcement thanks to a new investment at Westbury which will see milk turned into powder for consumption in countries across the globe.

The announcements today, together with plans for Taw Valley mean that Arla has already pledged in 2024 to invest more than £300M in its UK production sites.

Bas Padberg, continues: “We must also ensure we have a robust food supply chain for the UK market – and this starts with ensuring we can continue to return a fair price back to our farmer owners. As one of the biggest food companies in the UK, it is only natural that we look for further opportunities to grow, which includes strengthening our export opportunities.”

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* Value of the UK dairy sector provided by Dairy UK.

**Arla site investment breakdown:

  • Lockerbie – a £34M upgrade project to implement new technology
  • Stourton – £65M investment to increase capacity on ESL milk and add functionality for producing milk in cartons
  • Aylesbury – £8M investment to add a new boxpacker
  • Westbury - £15M upgrade to the effluent treatment plant + powder dryer upgrade (increased exports)
  • Taw Valley - £179M to implement state of the art technology for mozzarella production

Source: Arla Foods