Fonterra erects Darfield factory in record time to appease Asian demand

China's tea macchiato craze has forced Fonterra to build its quickest factory in history. 

Up and running this week in Darfield, a town in the South Island, the plant will pump out 24,000 tonnes of cream cheese a year. 

It's a $150 million plant dedicated to cream cheese - built solely to satisfy the Asian market. 

China's growing middle class appear to have fallen in love with tea macchiato: a tea served with cream cheese and whipped cream on top of it. 

China's growing middle class appear to have fallen in love with tea macchiato: a tea served with cream cheese and whipped cream on top of it.
China's growing middle class appear to have fallen in love with tea macchiato: a tea served with cream cheese and whipped cream on top of it. Photo credit: Newshub

"There's a rising middle class in China - what we're seeing is a real drive for high-end Western influence foods," Fonterra Darfield plant manager Blake Aston told Newshub. 

Now up and running in a year, the Darfield factory is the fastest one built in the dairy giant's history. And it's brought 30 new jobs to the small Canterbury town. 

Joshua Hatton, 27, is one of those lapping up a career-change. He was a drain-layer for five years in Christchurch, doing an apprenticeship after the earthquakes. Now he's working at Fonterra's new factory. 

Joshua Hatton, 27, is one of those lapping up a career-change.
Joshua Hatton, 27, is one of those lapping up a career-change. Photo credit: Newshub

"There's lots of job opportunity and lots of scope to progress over time, great work culture, great bunch of guys - everyone gets involved," he told Newshub. 

Purpose built, the new plant is equipped with state of the art equipment. 

"Essentially, when chefs are making cheesecake, they don't want it to stick to the blenders, so what we can do is dial down the consistency and it makes it easier for them to make cheesecakes," Mr Aston said. 

It's a three-day process, from milk being made into cream cheese, all the way to boxing it up before it's exported. 

"These machines will be working 20 hours a day, with the other four hours set aside for cleaning," Mr Aston added.  

"Now they'll be pumping out four-and-half tonnes of cream cheese an hour. That's 90 tonnes a day and 24,000 every year." 

And Fonterra says they've left room for expansion, as demand for this sweet treat grows.

Newshub. 

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