Boost for Dairy Sector as Kintyre Gets The Cream

The future of over 40 dairy farms and 100 jobs has been secured after First Milk unveiled plans to build a new state-of-the-art creamery on the Mull of Kintyre peninsula.

It will replace the existing Campbeltown creamery, built in the 1820s as a whisky distillery before being converted to a cheese-manufacturing facility. Despite regular investment the site is now struggling to cope with modern demands.

The creamery is supplied by 42 dairy farms and the dairy sector in Kintyre is worth £11 million a year to the local economy. There is no other viable processing outlet for these farms and future prospects were bleak without a replacement creamery.

The new creamery, also in Campbeltown, will have a larger capacity than the existing one and will be funded from three sources: up to £3.9 million from the Scottish Government; the sale of First Milk's existing creamery site to Tesco Stores Ltd; and funds from First Milk, the UK's leading dairy farmer co-operative.

Visiting Campbeltown today (Wednesday 1 July), Rural Affairs and Environment Secretary, Richard Lochhead said:

"This substantial investment is a great boost for the peninsula of Kintyre and the dairy sector. I made it clear at our recent Dairy Summit that we are committed to doing all we can to support the Scottish dairy sector. Our largest-ever grant for a dairy company in Scotland proves that we are willing to turn words into decisive action.

"The creamery is vital to the local economy and beyond and this investment will enable its owners to take full advantage of new developments in the food sector while delivering much-needed environmental improvements.

"At last week's Royal Highland Show there was undoubtedly a feel-good factor. It's important that we build on this momentum and use the nation's fantastic produce to enhance our economic, environmental and health credentials. Our national food and drink policy provides the framework to make this happen.

"The Campbeltown creamery is a huge part of the social and economic fabric of Kintyre. I am delighted that in partnership with First Milk and Tesco we are able to offer many families and communities throughout the region a much brighter future."

Peter Humphreys, First Milk chief executive, said:

"This is a red-letter day for First Milk and our employees and dairy farmers on Kintyre. The creamery and the dairy farming community on the peninsula are mutually dependent, and this new investment secures the future of the dairy industry in this part of Scotland.

"From day one the Scottish Government provided us with encouragement for this project and we are very grateful for the grant assistance they have committed to give us.

"We are also delighted that Tesco are involved with us on this project. They have been extremely supportive of our plans to maximise the potential of the excellent cheese we produce on Kintyre. The Mull of Kintyre brand has a growing national and international reputation and this is backed-up by the creamery's haul of three gold medals at the last World Cheese Awards."

Tesco Corporate Affairs Manager, Tony McElroy, added:

"This is a really exciting project for us and we are proud to be involved in helping to safeguard the future of cheese-making in Campbeltown.  Our Partnership with First Milk will not only help to protect future production in the area, but will also enable Tesco to create over 200 much needed new jobs.

"We know our existing store is very popular and believe that this a fantastic opportunity to improve the shopping experience we can offer our customers in Campbeltown."

NFU Scotland President, Jim McLaren, commented:

"This landmark announcement from the Scottish Government and First Milk is a much-needed shot in the arm for dairy farmers regionally and nationally.

"Confidence levels amongst dairy farmers are in need of a boost and this significant investment in modern plant to produce an award-winning product maps out the route to reinvigorating the dairy sector across Scotland.

"Local farmers supplying their milk into a local creamery to produce a world-renowned cheese is a superb success story that all parts of the supply chain – farmers, First Milk and its retailer customers - can take pride in, knowing that consumers love and value Kintyre cheese."

NOTES FOR NEWS EDITORS

1. Photos from today's event are available by contacting Jill Coyle, communications manager, First Milk 0141 847 6884/07825 625205.

2. The new factory will allow for increased production, provide processing efficiencies that cannot be achieved at the current plant, and allow the treatment and processing of whey, which is currently a waste product.  Closure of the creamery would, in addition to the loss of direct employment, have had serious implications for the milk production from some 40 farms in Kintyre and the immediate area.

3. Background on Scotland's first-ever Dairy Summit: http://www.scotland.gov.uk/News/Releases/2009/05/27154645

4. Background on the National Food and Drink Policy: www.Scotland.gov.uk/food


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