The first consignment of New Zealand butter arrived at the packing lines of Varde Butter Dairy on Friday, July 5th.
The event marked the culmination of four months’ intensive preparations involving switching the dairy from producing Lurpak to packing Anchor which arrives from New Zealand in frozen blocks.
The change is the result of the joint venture formed last year between Arla Foods and the large New Zealand producer, Fonterra.
Under the agreement Arla Foods will handle the packing of Anchor butter as well as the sales, distribution and marketing of Fonterra products.
As Anchor butter is packed in a different format from Lurpak, a substantial amount of machinery has been transferred to Varde from Fonterra’s existing packing facilities in the UK. The operation also involved seconding several Arla staff to the UK site.
So far the time schedule has been met allowing for limited trial production. More machinery will be transferred early in August with the bulk of the machinery following in September.
In October, Varde Dairy will produce 600 tons of New Zealand butter per week - which is full production. The butter is primarily sold in the UK.
When Varde reaches full production in October the dairy will handle 600 tons Anchor per week, primarily destined for the UK market.
The dairy in Götene in Sweden will take over the production and packing of three blended products from Fonterra and this has created 20 new jobs in the “minarine” department where training is currently taking place. Pipes, tanks and packing lines are currently being tested while the department is currently being upgraded, including the installation of melting equipment.
At Götene frozen butter blocks are thawed and ingredients added to produce three blended products. All three are spreadable and have a fat content of between 40% and 82%. The products are mainly intended for the British market.