Coleraine creamery in £6m investment to secure business outside NI
A County Londonderry creamery is investing about £6m to increase its European business.
Ballyrashane Creamery in Coleraine, which employs 150 staff, has developed a new speciality butter and is to construct a new butter processing plant.
Invest NI has offered the company almost £1.4m towards the project.
Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster said the investment would enable the firm to secure new business outside NI.
"The creamery... is investing to enable it to exploit opportunities for innovative butter products in target European markets that will command higher prices than commodity butter and therefore offer better returns for its milk suppliers," she said.
"In addition to supporting export sales, Ballyrashane's overall competitiveness will be enhanced by measures being implemented to increase efficiency and to reduce costs."
Nigel Kemps, chief executive of Ballyrashane Creamery, said: "This very substantial investment for the business will improve efficiency, increase productivity, reduce costs and enhance profitability.
"It will increase our competitiveness particularly in Britain, the Republic of Ireland and other European markets.
"We have long-established business partnerships with both a major European and a local distributor to support this process.
"Underpinning this strategy is a commitment to offer dairy farmers in the region - including over 80 dairy farmers who currently supply our milk - better prices in both the short and long term for the high quality milk they supply to the co-operative."
Ballyrashane Creamery is among the oldest farmers' co-operatives in Ireland.
Support for the butter manufacturing plant is also being provided by the Development of Agriculture and Rural Development through the Processing and Marketing Grant scheme.
In addition to a range of butters, the company produces liquid milk and speciality cheese, mostly for export.
It processes upwards of 100m litres of milk and 25,000 tonnes of sweet cream annually.
About 90% of its butter is sold outside Northern Ireland.