Fonterra is spending $23 million in Taranaki as it embarks on an upgrade of the coolstores at its Whareroa site near Hawera.
The company’s second-largest New Zealand site processes 14.5 million litres of milk a day at season peak and manufactures 400,000 tonnes of product a year – 12 per cent of Fonterra’s production.
The new 18-metre high coolstore – the size of a car park for 1400 cars – will be able to store 14,000 pallets (11,000 tonnes) of mozzarella and cheddar cheese.
Two 20-year-old coolstores, with bulges in the floor caused by ice underneath, have been demolished to make way for the new building. Construction begins next month and will be completed late next year.
South Taranaki Mayor Ross Dunlop welcomed the news, which he said showed Fonterra was committed to its Whareroa site.
“It’s a positive sign and it represents a big investment in our community.”
Until now, he had been concerned by Fonterra’s focus on the South Island. “Whareroa has not been the priority it was in the past and it’s good to see that focus coming back.”
Mr Dunlop said visiting contractors and the employment of South Taranaki tradesmen would be positive for the district.
Another positive for the region was last month’s election of South Taranaki businessman David MacLeod to Fonterra’s board of directors.
“We’ve been a little disadvantaged by not having a voice at the board table,” he said.
Apollo Projects Limited, a company that specialises in the design and construction of food and beverage processing and storage facilities, has the contract.
Spokesman Will Appleman said Taranaki companies would be involved and were now undertaking a subcontractors’ tendering process.
The company, with bases in Christchurch and Hamilton, has already built a 9000sqm cold store for Fonterra in Mosgiel, dairy driers for other food manufacturing companies and a 12,000sqm cold storage distribution facility for Foodstuffs Wellington.
In Taranaki it has built a production plant for Van Dyke Fine Foods at Bell Block and the RD1 store in Hawera.
Fonterra regional operations manager for the lower North Island, Scott Walls, said the old coolstores’ bulging floor had more than halved storage capacity from 7000 tonnes to just 3000 tonnes.
The new coolstore mirrors the company’s new storage hubs in Hamilton and Mosgiel and is part of a major overhaul of its supply chain.
A sophisticated temperature control system will allow cheese to be stored at between minus 18 degrees Celsius and 10C. A satellite racking system will offer storage flexibility and robotic trolleys that shift product will reduce the potential for damage.
Loading bays will also have a temperature control system.
The site’s sprinkler system will be upgraded as part of the project.
– Taranaki Daily News