Expansion plans submitted for Wales’ largest farmer-owned dairy co-operative
Gareth Wyn Williams, local democracy reporter
Wales’ largest farmer-owned dairy co-operative has submitted plans to expand its business as part of a multi-million pound investment designed to create 30 new jobs.
The authority’s planning department has received an application from South Caernarfon Creameries Ltd for a new whey processing building at its main production site at Rhydygwystl near Chwilog.
The new facility will also include cooling towers, storage silos, a refrigeration plant as well as a link bridge to the existing buildings on-site.
The move follows plans announced by the company, formed in 1938, to increase capacity from the current 150 million litres of milk up to 200 million.
But with more cheese comes more whey, which is the by-product created as a result of milk being curdled and strained, with the company needing a bigger facility as a result.
The supporting documents accompanying the application, state: “The increase in production volume will necessitate an increase in jobs and help to fulfil one of SCC key objectives to improve the local community and economy.
“It is estimated that a further 30 full-time jobs will be created upon completion of its current investment plans increasing the workforce from 130 to 160 employees, with circa 95% of employees living within 20 miles of its facility at Rhydygwystl.”
The applicants added: “As part of a multi-million-pound investment strategy, the new whey production facility is a key part of the overall expansion project and represents a significant part of the total planned investment, to cement the future of South Caernarfon Creameries.”
As part of an overall investment worth £14.4m, other plans in the pipeline include new facilities for milk reception, additional cheese production and packing lines.
Investment is also planned for effluent treatment and improving its environmental and energy performance, scheduled over a three-year period to be completed by 2024.
It’s expected that Gwynedd Council’s planning department will consider the application over the coming months.
Last month South Caernarfon Creameries said they had delivered a record year with operating profits of £3.4 million after selling 15,000 tons of cheese.
The 135 Welsh farmer-members, many of whom have been with South Caernarfon Creameries since it was founded in 1938, received an end of year dividend totalling £806,000.
Managing Director Alan Wyn Jones said last month that this was achieved despite Brexit’s “added costs and administration to exporting which is having a negative impact on returns”.
“Our main priority in the pandemic has been the health and well-being of our loyal staff as well as doing what we can to limit the impact of the virus on the business and its customers,” he said.
“But in a year like no other, we have delivered a resilient business performance while continuing to pay one of the best milk prices in Wales to our farmer-members.”