FrieslandCampina will be building a new cheese warehouse in Gerkesklooster (the Netherlands) and refurbishing the brine plant there. The warehouse was totally destroyed and part of the brine plant was reduced to ashes following a serious fire on 29 July 2014.
The Executive Board of Royal FrieslandCampina has approved a EUR 30 million investment for the reconstruction work. The new automated cheese warehouse will house storage capacity for 2,100 tons of cheese, cheese processing lines and a dispatching area. The building will be slightly differently sited in order to use the available area more efficiently. The construction work is due for completion in November 2015.
Derrien Jansen, plantmanager at Gerkesklooster, said: ‘I am delighted that the board has decided to completely rebuild the production plant. The fire was a terrible experience for everyone involved. We literally saw our workplace go up in smoke. But even before the fire was over, we’d already started making plans to resume production as soon as possible. Another team looked ahead to the long-term and that has resulted in the approved plan for full reconstruction and modernisation.’
Employees of FrieslandCampina in Gerkesklooster have played an important role in the plant’s rapid return to production, working with specialist firms to undertake the work of cleaning and repairs. On 3 September 2014, cheese was produced for the first time since the fire. The production of milkpowder and Valess had already resumed in August. Other FrieslandCampina cheese production plants took over part of the cheese production in the interim.
Following completion of the construction work, cheese production at the plant in Gerkesklooster will return to its original volume of approximately 57,000 tonnes of cheese per year. The Gerkesklooster site produces specialist cheeses such as Slankie 20+, Mimolette, 4.5 kg Gouda, Edam and goat’s cheese, in addition to Valess and milk powder. About a third of the cheese is destined for export. The location employees 175 people.
FrieslandCampina has other cheese production plants in Workum, Marum, Bedum, Lutjewinkel, Balkbrug, Steenderen, Rijkevoort and Born (all in the Netherlands).