60 jobs announced as Dale Farm’s new £7m cheese processor gets packing

John Dunlop, United Diary Farmers Chairman, Nick Whelan, Dale Farm Group Chief Executive, Economy Minister Simon Hamilton and David Dobbin, Dale Farm Group retiring Chief Executive.
John Dunlop, United Diary Farmers Chairman, Nick Whelan, Dale Farm Group Chief Executive, Economy Minister Simon Hamilton and David Dobbin, Dale Farm Group retiring Chief Executive.

Economy Minister Simon Hamilton joined Dale Farm’s ‘big cheeses’ today (Wednesday, Aug 17) to announce the creation of 60 new jobs following the firm’s £7m investment in a new cheese processor.

Able to cut and pack 20 tonnes of cheese a day, the firm’s new venture - which was supported by InvestNI - has already seen an increase in business from Europe.

New CEO Nick Whelan addresses visitors

New CEO Nick Whelan addresses visitors

Speaking before the unveiling of the new facility, outgoing Dale Farm CEO David Dobbin revealed that the company sells 18 of its products every second of the day, but has plans for further growth - a sentiment echoed by the man who will be filling his boots after almost 20 years, new CEO Nick Whelan.

Mr Whelan told the Mail: “We’re very proud of the announcement here, it’s a real example of our strategy in action.

“Dale Farm is about not just growing the growing the business - we have grown cheese here by 300 per cent in the last five years - we’re about adding value for our farmers and for our customers and that’s manifested in the unveiling today of a £7m investment in our new cutting facility for cheeses.

“It’s not just about making cheese, it’s not just about processing milk, it’s about adding value to our milk overall and making us a sustainable business.

Minister Hamilton going through foot cleaner

Minister Hamilton going through foot cleaner

“We’re announcing today that there will be 60 jobs, we’ll be supporting local economy here, (and we are already) a business of 1,300 very valuable employees and 1,300 farmers.”

Asked if the jobs were already in place, Mr Whelan said they were, but added that other big plans for the future of the company include a solar farm, which he said was “critical to keeping costs down”.

Speaking after cutting the ribbon on the new cheese processor, Minister Simon Hamilton told the Mail: “It’s good to be here in Cookstown today to see the opening of this new cheese retail packing facility... which is a total of a £7m investment which InvestNI supported to the tune of just over half a million pounds.

“It’s really good to see a company like Dale Farm continue to modernise and be innovative and in doing so, helping to create 60 new jobs for the Cookstown area.”

The milk vats where it all starts

The milk vats where it all starts

Hard at work in Dale Farm

Hard at work in Dale Farm

At the starting block

At the starting block

Cheese coming out of the new machine

Cheese coming out of the new machine

The Minister with Mid Ulster MLAs Patsy McGlone and Keith Buchanan and chair of Mid Ulster Council, Trevor Wilson

The Minister with Mid Ulster MLAs Patsy McGlone and Keith Buchanan and chair of Mid Ulster Council, Trevor Wilson