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Major moves in mozzarella: Pizza appetite propels cheese expansion as Arla invests US$88m in Danish facility

Tapping into an increasing global demand for mozzarella, Arla Foods is investing €80 million (US$88.4 million) to more than double the cheese production at its Branderup Dairy plant in Denmark. The Scandanavian dairy company expects the European mozzarella cheese market to increase from around 650,000 metric tons (MT) in 2019 to 720,000MT by 2022. The expansion of Branderup Dairy is forecast for completion in the summer of 2021, with an expected production capacity of 91 million kilos of mozzarella per year.

“Today, the capacity of Branderup is 38 million kilos annually. The amount of extra cheese more than doubles the current mozzarella production, so that Branderup Dairy in the future will produce 91 million kilos of mozzarella per year,” Carina Østergaard, Communication Manager at Arla Foods, tells.

Arla’s mozzarella production in Denmark is concentrated on Branderup and Rødkærsbro Dairies. From here, cheeses are shipped worldwide to 100 countries on all continents. “The success is due, among other things, to developing regions around the world demanding more cheese as fast food products such as pizza are growing worldwide,” the company notes.

An expansion of this size gives us the opportunity to build on that position as a supplier of high quality mozzarella in Europe, Asia, US and the Middle East,” says Sami Naffakh, Executive Vice President for Supply Chain.

“The changing food consumption trends in emerging economies of the Asia Pacific are significant. The increasing consumption of pizza, is – among other things – expected to drive growth of the mozzarella cheese market in Asia,” adds Østergaard.

The design phase of the facility’s construction is currently underway, with construction beginning in 2020. Arla will direct its investment towards the expansion of its milk weighing capacity, milk silo inventory, milk processing area, storage capacity and add a cheese production line to increase the annual production with 53 million kilos of mozzarella.

“We are very proud of our production of high quality mozzarella at Branderup Dairy and it is a very gratifying that a growing demand for our products now means that we must more than double our production. It helps create the future of dairy and I am happy for Arla and for our farmer owners,” says Rene Nørgaard, Senior Director of Arla's mozzarella production.

When asked about the potential for the rising popularity of plant-based dairy alternatives to offset global demand for cheese, Østergaard explains, “To us, it is not a question of one food type or the other. There can be room for both dairy and plant-based food sources in people’s diets. We believe dairy has an important role to play in healthy and sustainable diets globally and we will continue to develop nutritional and tasty products to meet consumers’ needs.”

The new expansion closely follows Arla Foods’ recent investment of €50 million (US$55 million) in a cheese production site in Bahrain. The majority of Arla’s products sold in the region will now be produced locally at the site in Manama, which will enable the company to further expand its branded cheese production. By 2025, Arla expects to increase annual production in Bahrain to more than 100,000 tons under its Puck, Arla, Dano, Kraft and Private Label brands.

Eco-efficient cheese production
In line with the expansion, Arla highlights the integration of its “new and sustainable” dairy technology. Going forward, the multinational cooperative is targeting a significant reduction of its use of water in cheesemaking.

“We work with sustainability in all aspects of dairy production from the farm to the consumer. We also assume this responsibility at Branderup Dairy and therefore we aim to reuse as much water as possible, and will use the latest energy-optimized equipment for the expansion,” says Nørgaard.

Focusing on water reuse and other production improvement ties into Arla’s climate goal of reducing total CO2 emissions by 30 percent by 2030 compared to 2015, and becoming CO2 neutral in 2050, the company outlines.

Last month, Arla joined prominent dairy sector leaders in the backing of the Sustainable Dairy Partnership (SDP), which is due to be fully operational early next year, led by the Switzerland-based Sustainable Agriculture Initiative (SAI) Platform. The SDP aims to unite an industry-wide push towards global sustainability and usher in a collective approach to commercial relationships between dairy customers and their suppliers to overcome environmental and social impacts impacting the industry worldwide.

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