Müller UK is investing £17m in a new butter manufacturing facility at its Market Drayton site in Shropshire.

The facility, which is due to be online by autumn 2013, will be the largest butter plant in the UK, said Müller UK and Ireland chief operating officer Ronald Kers, speaking at the Semex UK conference in Glasgow today (Monday 14 January).

The plant will have the capacity to process 90,000t of cream – roughly the total cream output of the business – and produce 45,000t of butter, he said.

In addition, the company would also be embarking on a recruitment drive in spring to get as many new dairy producers on board as possible, he added.

“We want to invest in the UK and make ourselves more competitive on a worldwide basis, which means we need more milk,” said Mr Kers.

“We need more milk and we need more farmers that are supporting us – we need to do this in a sense of urgency.”

In the next four months, the company would also be working on a project, together with its farmer board, to look at how milk is valued, he said.

He added that the company was committed to implementation of the voluntary code of practice, which he described as an important framework for the basis of dairy contracts in the future.

He said the UK dairy industry needed to work to replace imports with home-produced products. At present, the UK is a net importer of dairy products – imports are worth approximately £2.2bn, while exports are worth £1.1bn.

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