Mona Island Dairy, a start-up in Wales, is investing GBP20m (US$28.3m) in a newly-acquired factory to produce a range of cheeses supported by a local grant.
Managing director Ronald Akkerman and chairman David Wynne-Finch, who hold a 50-50 split in the business founded in 2017, have taken out a five-year lease on a plant in the town of Holyhead, Anglesey, with an option to purchase the facility once the lease ends, the MD confirmed.
The investment will convert what is currently a warehouse in Holyhead to a food manufacturing facility which is due for completion in September and will be ready for commercial production from January. It will produce own-label Welsh artisan cheeses, as well as cheddar, Gouda and Edam, targeted at retail and foodservice customers.
The Business Innovation and Tourism Scheme is providing GBP3m to the project, while Mona Island said loans and equity will also contribute to the funding to convert the 25,000 square-foot facility.
Akkerman told Just Food the company aims to have a turnover of GBP25m by 2022. “Production commitments for 2022 are in place and this will take us to GBP25m with the current plant configuration,” he said. “The next expansion phase (additional equipment in the existing building) will be implemented later this year, so we can grow production further from autumn 2022.”
The Holyhead site, the acquisition of which has been delayed linked to planning approvals and Covid-19, will be capable of producing 7,000 tonnes of cheese a year, and the project is expected to create around 100 jobs.
Akkerman said in a statement: “The cheese production line has been built to accommodate the company’s future growth ambitions. The focus will be to develop long-term partnerships with anchor customers and milk suppliers – it’s an exciting project, fantastic for the industry and the region.”
He said the business will seek a minority shareholder or shareholders this year to support its expansion.
Mona Island claims the grant will help make the factory “the most sustainable in Europe, running solely on renewable electricity”.
Akkerman continued: “The product range offered to the retail and foodservice sectors will be for restaurant menus, wholesalers and customers who will be able to choose the type of cheese (brine or dry salted), the fat content, the shape, and have the option of selecting additional ingredients such as herbs and spices.”