Chief Financial Officer of Clover Jacques Botha and Petros Dhlomo at clover Manufacturing Company in Queensburgh.Picture Zanele Zulu.20/02/2014

Johannesburg - Dairy producer Clover opened its expanded production and distribution facility in Queensburgh, Durban, last week.

The owner of Tropika, Aquartz mineral water and Quali juice said the R171 million investment would support reduction of inflationary cost pressures.

This expansion formed part of Project Cielo Blu, the dairy company’s primary capital expenditure programme following its listing on the JSE in 2010.

The development included the relocation of certain production facilities closer to the milk source and addressed logistical and distribution inefficiencies across the country, Clover said.

The expansion would increase the plant’s chilled capacity by 47 percent and ambient capacity by 100 percent. The potential average volume throughput would be boosted to almost 1.5 million litres a day.

Through Clover’s milk collection facility in Ixopo in KwaZulu-Natal, the expanded Queensburgh facility would procure 290 000 litres of milk a day from about 52 local farmers. On a daily basis the facility produced about 500 000 litres of milk, juice, Super M and amasi fermented milk.

Chairman Werner Büchner said: “The Queensburgh facility was a major element of our main capital expenditure programme over the past three years. I am confident the investments made in products and efficiencies give us a strong footing to retain our leading position in defined markets.”

He added that the additional products, new cold room and ambient warehouse added to the facility were already delivering benefits for Clover.

“We will continue to invest in value-adding expenditure programmes over the long term as we aim to mitigate rising input and transport costs.”

The Queensburgh site spans 63ha with a total area of building under roof measuring 32 571m2 and a total floor area of 46 673m2.

In addition to this development, Clover has launched a number of production-related projects. These include the installation and commissioning of the new extended shelf life plant, which produces fresh milk with 18 days’ shelf life, and the new ultra-pasteurised processing and aseptic filler which has helped produce ultra-pasteurised milk with an extended shelf life of 30 days.

“Introduction of fresh milk with a minimum 18-day shelf life and ultra-pasteurised milk with an extended shelf life of 30 days are industry firsts and reinforce Clover’s position as the market leader,” Büchner said.

He added that long-term investments were paramount to take Clover to the next level of growth and the group was confident the investment made since listing would deliver returns for years to come.

The site employed 1 824 people with 46 jobs created as a result of the distribution expansion and production projects.

Clover’s share price rose 0.86 percent to R20 on Friday.