Fonterra officially opens world's joint largest milk powder dryer at Lichfield


Fonterra today celebrated the official opening of its new state-of-the-art milk powder dryer at its Lichfield site – the Co-operative’s most efficient milk powder dryer to date.

MP for Taupo, Hon. Louise Upston and South Waikato Mayor Jenny Shattock joined local farmers, iwi and community members to officially open the new plant.

Fonterra Chairman John Wilson said today’s opening is the continuation of our strong legacy in dairy production in New Zealand’s dairy heartland.

“While Lichfield is one of Fonterra’s younger sites, over its 21 year history it has become one of the most significant for our Co-operative in our ability to meet growing global demand for dairy.”

“This new plant will help us to strike a balance in our processing that allows us to switch between products quickly to meet demand changes in global markets, push the pace on production when milk volumes dictate, and ultimately deliver the best product mix to generate returns,” Mr Wilson says.

The new 30 metric tonne an hour dryer came online in September this year and is capable of processing 4.4 million litres of milk each day. More than 3,000 people worked over one million hours to finish the project, which was completed under budget.

Fonterra Chief Operating Officer Global Operations, Robert Spurway said the commissioning of the new plant was one of the smoothest and most efficient on record at Fonterra.

“It was extremely impressive to see such a large and diverse group of people come together to deliver this project. Everyone has contributed something to the build which allowed us to do things faster, smarter and cost effectively,” says Mr Spurway.

The dryer is supported by a new distribution centre, service and a sophisticated wastewater treatment plant. 

“Processing such large volumes of milk is a resource intensive business, and we have put our focus into making sure any impacts are minimised wherever possible,” said Mr Spurway.

“A new biological wastewater treatment plant ensures that we’re able to treat any wastewater before it is irrigated to land near the site – the most environmentally sustainable solution.

“The new distribution centre has the capacity to store 40,000 metric tonnes of whole milk powder which is then loaded into containers and shipped directly to port via an in-built rail siding. This removes up to 40 truck movements from the site every day which will not only free up local roads but also reduces our carbon emissions.”