Lakeland Dairies has officially opened an EUR20m (US$27.4m) “technologically advanced” milk powder plant at its Bailieboro, County Cavan site in Ireland today (4 October).

The move will consolidate its entire milk powder manufacturing operations into the largest non-whey milk drying plant in Europe.

The facility will have an annual production capacity of 70,000 tonnes of milk powders and 25,000 tonnes of butter.

The dairy co-operative, which is Ireland’s second largest, said the new facility will mean that milk producers will benefit from reduced processing costs, new economises of scale and considerable cost savings, which will improve long-term competitiveness in global dairy markets.

According to Lakeland Dairies, the plant uses the most modern milk drying technologies including a 55 tonne evaporator, which has an advanced energy efficient heat recovery system, and the filling and packaging system is robotic and the first such system in Europe.

The plant was 40% part financed by the Irish government’s dairy grants scheme, which is administered by Enterprise Ireland under the National Development Plan.

“The opening of our new milk drying plant forms a key element of the strategic restructuring plan which we started four years ago and which has resulted in a significant realignment of all our operations to achieve greater efficiency,” said Lakeland Dairies chief executive Michael Hanley.