Lakeland Dairies can’t get enough milk, according to its CEO Michael Hanley, who spoke to Agriland at the Balmoral Show.

The Co. Cavan-based milk processor owns the Prichitt Foods’ plant in Newtownards and Micheal Hanley lost no time in confirming the plans that are about to unfold at the North Down facility.

“We are about to invest £10 million in the development of a Global Logistics Distribution and Innovation Centre at Newtownards. The plant will meet the future exporting needs of the entire Group. The investment at Newtownards will also include the development of our new research and development centre,” he said.

“The logistics centre will be fully automated and represents a key investment project for Lakeland, ensuring that we will remain competitive on international markets for the next decade and more.

“The project will be completed before Christmas. The new distribution centre will have a floor area extending to 200 metres by 100 metres. The facility will be 30 metres high. In essence, it will be the size of a football pitch and more.”

Michael Hanley went on to confirm that Lakeland is also committed to expanding its farmer network in  Northern Ireland by almost 30%. “Our milk pool is currently sitting at 720 million litres. Our plan is to grow that to 1 billion litres over the next couple of years.

“Milk has traditionally been the best performing sector within agriculture. And this will continue to be the case. Global demand for milk products is increasing by two and half per cent per annum. And this trend may well gather pace over the coming years, given the growing impact of countries like China in the world marketplace. Ireland, north and south, is perfectly placed to capitalise on these opportunities. Our farmers produce milk of the highest quality. Adding to this is the significant investment that has been made by all of the dairy processers in terms of innovation and delivering full traceability to buyers and consumers.”