Valio is investing €10m ($10.9m) to renovate a cold storage area at a factory in its home market of Finland to boost efficiencies in production.
The farmer-owned dairy cooperative said the capital investment at the facility in the town of Suonenjoki, located in the Northern Savonia region, will “improve the pre-treatment of frozen berries, fruits, vegetables and herbs processed in the factory and increase predictability in production and raw material management”.
In a statement posted on Valio’s LinkedIn page, Finland’s largest milk processor said the project, complete with automation equipment to process the frozen ingredients, is expected to be completed in 2025.
Valio added the investment in the so-called “pre-processing” area at Suonenjoki will increase floorspace by “several hundred” square meters and will include a new defrosting system.
Robotics will also be added as part of the project to ease the physical demands on workers.
Markku Ihasalo, factory manager at Valio, said: “Through the investment, we will be able to use new technology in the factory, with which the temperature of frozen raw materials can be raised from -20C during transport and storage to -2C during product processing, within a few minutes.
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“In addition, the new automation facilitates the handling of heavy frozen raw materials. This significantly improves and speeds up the factory’s production and brings flexibility to the production of products.”
Valio generates net sales of €1.8bn and has subsidiaries in Sweden, the Baltics, the US and China, according to the co-op’s website. The business claims to account for a quarter of Finland’s food exports.
Products such as cheese, yogurt, butter, milk and protein-based desserts are manufactured under Valio’s namesake brand. It also owns a majority share in the Oddlygood plant-based company and brand, which makes cheese and yogurt alternatives, along with barista oat drinks.
Oddlygood expanded through M&A in November when the Finnish business bought the Sweden-based vegan brand Planti from Norway’s Kavli Holding. The deal included Planti’s production facility in Turku, Finland.
Planti’s product range includes plant-based alternatives to milk, yogurt and crème fraîche.