The world’s largest milk-powder dryer, costing $212 million, has opened this week at Edendale in Southland as part of Fonterra’s strengthening of infrastructure, with more South Island developments to follow.

Fonterra has a rolling plan to upgrade its plants and warehouses, and the milk-powder dryer, ED4, has been fitted with world-leading innovation and technology to the extent that equipment with intellectual property rights is installed after the main fitout.

The new dryer, capable of producing 27 tonnes of milk powder an hour, will increase Fonterra’s national production by more than 10 per cent to 1.1 million tonnes a year to allow the co-operative to capitalise on the strong global demand for milk powders. Further investment will follow, with Fonterra readying itself to invest in more plant in the South Island if it continues to lead dairying’s growth.

The Edendale dryer coincides with dairying growing in the South Island by between 6 per cent and 7 per cent in the past year.

Fonterra Trade and Operations managing director Gary Romano said the South Island represented one-third of Fonterra’s milk manufacturing and was the reason the Edendale dryer was installed.

New Zealand manufacturing general manager Brent Taylor said Edendale would eventually have to be upscaled again, with the improvements meeting demands for milk powder for the next two to three years. He said Edendale had the largest processing capacity for a plant and in the next year would be the co-operative’s top milk- powder producer.

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