Fonterra Cooperative Group, the world's biggest dairy exporter, is going ahead with a plan to build a cheese plant and dairy ingredient factory in the north of the Netherlands with Dutch dairy firm A-ware Food Group.
The dairy companies will develop a greenfield site in Heerenveen where A-ware will operate a cheese plant and Fonterra the ingredients unit alongside, Fonterra said in a statement. Cheese will be produced for A-ware's customer base in Europe, with the whey and lactose produced processed into ingredients for Fonterra's clients.
"Fonterra has substantial intellectual property in the manufacture of functional whey protein ingredients and has been looking for some time for a source of high quality whey to enable it to commercialise these innovations for customers around the world," Fonterra chief executive Theo Spierings said.
Spierings has an intimate knowledge of the Dutch dairy sector, overseeing the merger of cooperative Royal Friesland Foods with Campina in 2008, before joining the New Zealand firm in 2011.
The New Zealand dairy exporter has embarked on a new strategy that includes a bigger focus on advanced nutritional needs for babies and ageing populations, as well as growing its presence in emerging Asian nations.
Fonterra and A-ware started looking at the joint venture in May last year, with both dairy groups looking for a new pivot in their respective supply chains.