Dairy Crest announces £49 million Cornwall expansion

Dairy Crest, the UK’s premier dairy company, has today announced plans for a £49 million re-build and expansion of its Davidstow Creamery in North Cornwall, creating the UK’s largest mature cheddar cheese plant while boosting the incomes of hundreds of local farmers.

The project is being supported with £4 million from the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Objective One European funding programme, matched by £4 million from the Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

Dairy Crest has pledged to continue paying local farmers a bonus premium for the milk they produce and to increase the bonus as the total volume of milk supplied also increases, which will allow farmers to benefit directly from the investment in Davidstow.

The new plant will require an additional 140 million litres of milk by 2012, rising from the 320 million litres currently used, to 460 million litres, boosting milk production in Cornwall and helping to sustain the local dairy industry.

It is the single largest capital project approved through the Objective One programme to date and is expected to employ between 100 and 150 contractors on site continuously for more than two years.

Objective One programme director Bill Bawden said:“The future of the dairy industry is in value-added products like branded mature cheddar. Dairy Crest’s pledge to continue paying local farmers a premium can only be good news for the Cornish dairy industry. This represents a huge strategic investment and is a real coup for North Cornwall.

“Credit should go to Roger Metcalf, Objective One dairy sector co-ordinator, plus the rest of the Objective One Agricultural Development Team, for helping to make the project a reality.”

Scheduled for completion by the end of 2004, the £49 million scheme is Dairy Crest’s largest ever single site investment and will reinforce Davidstow’s position as the UK’s leading mature cheddar cheese plant. Work will start immediately and planning permission has already been granted.

The expansion will allow Dairy Crest to meet rapidly growing consumer demand for its market leading Cathedral City and Davidstow brands, both of which have outperformed the mature cheddar sector and are produced only at the North Cornwall plant. Annual production will increase over time by 66% to 55,000 tonnes of cheese per annum from the current level of 33,000 tonnes.

Commenting on developments, Mark Allen, Managing Director of Dairy Crest’s Cheese Business, said: “Dairy Crest has long maintained that, if both dairy farmers and processors are to enjoy a full and fair reward, the industry’s focus should be on added value products. Our added value strategy is proving particularly effective in the cheese sector, where consumer demand for premium quality mature cheddar has been growing rapidly in recent years.

“Overall sales of Cathedral City have doubled in the last five years and dairy farmers in Cornwall have played an important part in that success. To support and recognise the role of the farmers who supply the Davidstow creamery directly, Dairy Crest introduced a bonus scheme last autumn which we believe demonstrates our commitment to the dairy industry in Cornwall.”

Councillor Neil Burden, chairman of North Cornwall District Council’s regeneration committee, said: “North Cornwall District Council has always been very active in promoting economic development, which is now our main priority. We are therefore delighted that this major expansion is going ahead and welcome the opportunities it will bring for North Cornwall and the support it will give the dairy industry throughout Cornwall.”


Editors notes:

Dairy Crest

Dairy Crest is the UK's largest broad-based chilled dairy foods company with leading brand positions in all sectors of the dairy market – liquid milk, fresh flavoured milk drinks, cheese, dairy spreads, fresh dairy products (yoghurt, fromage frais, chilled desserts) and dairy-based ingredients.
The company focuses on building leadership positions in branded and added value markets and its portfolio of brands includes:

  • Cathedral City, Davidstow and Wexford cheese brands make Dairy Crest the leading supplier of mature cheddar in the UK and the company is also the UK's largest producer of Stilton.

  • Clover is the brand leader in the dairy spreads sector and Frijj is the brand leader in the fresh flavoured milk drinks market. Dairy Crest is also a major producer of Country Life packet and spreadable butter.

    Dairy Crest is a leading supplier of fresh dairy products through the Yoplait Dairy Crest joint venture with its brands Petits Filous and Frubes together with ranges including Wildlife and Weight Watchers from Heinz.

    Dairy Crest is the UK’s largest purchaser of raw milk, processing around 2.6 billion litres pa and is one of the UK’s leading suppliers of raw milk, as well as the market leader in doorstep deliveries in Southern England. The company is also the leading British producer of dairy ingredients, such as butter, skimmed milk powder and whey- based products, which it supplies to major UK food manufacturers.


    Davidstow Creamery is situated on a 50-acre hilltop site in North Cornwall and currently employs 174 people in process and distribution. The plant has facilities for cheese making, whey evaporating and drying and a capacity to process 320m litres of milk per annum into cheese. Milk is supplied by more than 500 local farms and the site can produce 33,000 tonnes of cheese and 18,000 tonnes of premium quality whey powder per year.

    Cathedral City and Davidstow, the mature cheddar cheeses produced at Davidstow, have a unique creamy flavour and have been highly successful in the UK market.

    Dairy Crest’s Industry investment

    The £49m, part funded with money from the European Objective One programme and DEFRA, brings Dairy Crest’s total UK dairy industry investment over the past three years to over £200m.

    The Davidstow upgrade, which will make it the largest and most modern mature cheddar cheese plant in the UK, follows the previously announced creation of Europe’s two largest super dairies at Chadwell Heath, London, and Severnside, Gloucestershire, and the state-of-the-art distribution plant at Nuneaton, Warwickshire. In November 2002, Severnside is scheduled to follow Chadwell Heath and Nuneaton in opening on schedule.

    For more information please contact:

    Dairy Crest Group plc
    020 8910 4000

    Sinead Noble, Corporate Communications Manager

    Citigate Dewe Rogerson
    020 7638 9571

    Julian Walker / Charles Vivian / Sarah Peters


  • Jason Clark
    Communications Manager
    Objective One Partnership Office
    Castle House
    Pydar Street
    Truro TR1 2UD
    Tel:01872 241379
    Fax:01872 241388