The £3m grant from the Business Innovation and Tourism Escalator Scheme (BITES) will see the Mona Island Dairy factory become the most sustainable in Europe, running solely on renewable electricity. The funding will support production of Welsh and continental cheeses at the 25,000 sq ft facility, based on Mona Industrial Park, Holyhead. Additional money in the form of loans and equity will contribute to the £20m site conversion, which is due for completion this September.
When finished, the factory will be the most modern anywhere on the continent, capable of producing 7,000 tons of cheese a year.
According to Managing Director Ronald Akkerman, the move will see turnover rise to £25m by 2022 and set new standards for the industry, as they look to blend innovative and traditional methods to create Cheddar, Gouda, Edam and a range of artisan cheeses using milk from local farms, overseen by chairman David Wynne-Finch.
Said Akkerman: “The product range offered to the retail and food service 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 (block or traditional wheel) and have the option of selecting additional ingredients such as herbs and spices. This will result in premium own label products being produced in significant volumes or in relatively small batches. The cheese production line has been built to accommodate the company’s future growth ambitions.
“Different milk streams can be processed into specific niche products, such as organic cheese. Biodegradable wastes such as milk residue will be processed at the nearby Mona Biogas plant on Anglesey and all the process water will be recovered from the whey concentration, thereby minimising the intake of potable water. This will make it the most environmentally friendly factory in Europe, running completely on renewable electricity.”
Akkerman revealed Mona Island Dairy will collaborate closely with customers to identify market trends, develop new products and create a distinct competitive advantage at retail and food service level.
He continued: “This is the largest new development in the food sector in North Wales this year and is attracting an enormous amount of interest across the dairy and cheese industry in the UK and Europe. Linking the Welsh Government with academia and entrepreneurs in the region has formed a strong triple helix that will help to get the economy going again. 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.”
The Minister responsible for Rural Affairs and North Wales, and Trefnydd, Lesley Griffiths, is delighted the project is on track to eventually create more than 100 new jobs for the area.
Said Griffiths: : “This is excellent news for Holyhead, Anglesey and the wider area. It is good to see that milk from local farms will be used in the production of the cheese which will be a boost for the dairy industry, and it is great to see the measures taken to minimise the impact on the environment. I am pleased the Welsh Government is supporting this facility which will create over 100 new jobs, which is very positive for the region.”
Meanwhile, Dr Graham Jackson, from Wrexham Glyndwr University Business School, has joined the Board of Mona Island Dairy as Director with responsibility for Strategic Development and Corporate Governance. For more visit monadairy.com