The plant uses about 30% less energy per unit of production than the old factory Valio Riihimäki. To achieve maximum energy efficiency, the plant makes efficient use of the waste heat generated during manufacturing. In the new type of refrigerated warehouse, the products are cooled quickly, while saving energy at the same time. The products are cooled by the free cooling method, so that in colder weather the low outside temperature is used to make the process more energy-efficient.
Thanks to the energy-saving technology and heat recovery systems, the new plant uses energy production from the existing heat production plant. In other words, there was no need to expand capacity. More than three-quarters of the thermal energy used at Valio Riihimäki comes from renewable fuel.
Significant resources have also been invested in effective and efficient food loss management has also been invested. The manufacturing and packaging equipment are designed to minimise product loss. The standards of hygiene in the plant are top-class, since the manufacturing equipment is completely isolated from the surrounding environment. The rigorous standards of hygiene reduce losses throughout the manufacturing chain, from the factory to the consumer’s table.
- The snack plant is the largest single investment in Valio’s history, with a value of EUR170 million.
- Construction of the new snack plant began in 2014 and took about three years.
- The plant site covers an area of about 53 hectares, of which about 265,000 square metres are floor space. The area of the plant building is approximately 20,000 square metres. The plant is a five-storey building.
- More than 4,000 people were involved in building the plant during the three years of its construction. A total of about 1.1 million work hours went into construction of the plant.
- The plant has an annual production capacity of around 120 million kilos.
- Valio employs a total of about 440 people at Valio Riihimäki plants and in total Valio provides employment for more than 4,000 employees.
Continued economic and political instability in the world’s biggest economies is dramatically affecting the global performance of dairy, at least at first sight, with a 9% decline in retail value sales in 2015 and continued decline in 2016.
Yet much of this decline is to do with currency exchange as several major currencies weakened against the US dollar, including the Euro, GBP, RUB, Real and CNY since 2015.
Whilst the effects of unfavourable exchange rates should not be underestimated, at least consumers are not buying less of what they eat. On the contrary, between 2015 and 2016, retail volume of overall dairy is growing and fixing exchange rates against the dollar paints a different picture with global retail sales growth of 4% in 2016.
This, in fact, is in line with overall snacks’ performance, a category once thought of as the biggest growth driver of packaged food. Consumers at last recognising dairy foods as nutritious and natural snacks is benefitting the dairy industry. As a result, many traditional snack companies are now looking to gain a foothold in dairy as a new growth generator within the health arena.
Tanvi Savara, Consumer Insight Analyst at Canadean, says that top consumer and innovation trends for dairy in 2016 include targeting niche consumer groups, creating new occasions for dairy consumption, and snacking on the go.
Savara explains: “Dairy brands are redefining dairy consumption occasions by targeting new day parts to boost consumer engagement and brand loyalty. The trend is more mainstream in yogurt, but there are opportunities to expand usage occasions for milk and cheese by targeting late evenings and after-dinner.”
The analyst also notes that high-protein products will have a significant impact on the dairy sector over the next few years, as the trend extends beyond its typical demographic consumer base.
Savara explains: “The protein trend is going mainstream, as major brands are launching products such as Fairlife and Mars High Protein. Furthermore, not only are high protein claims appealing to younger consumers, but the 55+ demographic will also provide consumer opportunities to dairy brands in 2016 and beyond. Healthy aging will be a key focus area for innovation looking ahead.”
Other key trends discussed at the Dairy Innovation Summit included: “snackifying dairy”, which covers new launches of products such as yogurt drinks with added fibre, chia seeds and nuts and bite-sized cheeses; sensory pleasure, wherein manufacturers are breaking the mould by introducing spicy flavours to ice creams and yogurts; and alternative milks, including a new wave of innovation in milks derived from nuts, grains, rice and seeds.