Valio Group: invests 60 million euros in Lapinlahti

Helsinki / FI. (val) Finland’s Valio Group is making a significant investment of over EUR 60 million in the cheese production process at the Lapinlahti plant. The investment includes an expansion of the existing facilities and the replacement of the equipment. The investment is intended to replace the current manufacturing equipment, which has reached the end of its technical service life. Construction work will begin in summer 2024, and the new production line is expected to be commissioned in spring 2026.

«With this significant investment, we secure the continuity of cheese production for a long time to come. The investment will also reduce the waste generated in production and boost the cheese-making capacity of the Lapinlahti plant,» says Aleksi Ylitalo, director of the Lapinlahti plant.

The changes in cheesemaking include an expansion of the existing facilities with a floor area of about 2,000 square metres and new cheesemaking equipment. Also the packaging operations and equipment will be renewed. In addition, the investment includes a new power substation and back-up power.

Lapinlahti is an important plant for Valio

Lapinlahti, one of Valio’s largest locations, is situated in a core region of Finnish milk production and receives about a quarter of Valio’s raw milk, i.e. 415 million litres of milk per year. Lapinlahti produces ripened cheeses for everyday use and gourmet occasions. Cheeses are made for the domestic market and are also exported to, for example, Central Europe and the United States.

In addition to cheeses, the Lapinlahti plant produces milk powder, demineralized whey powder and added-value powders such as lactose-free milk powders and baby food. Most of the milk powder products are exported.

In recent years, Valio has actively developed the Lapinlahti plant and invested especially in the plant’s powder production. The most recent investment is a consumer product packaging plant, which was completed in 2020. In 2022, the plant underwent a major energy renovation, which enabled the recovery of the heat from the plant’s flue gasses. This reduced the plant’s energy consumption by more than 10 percent and greenhouse gas emissions by about 10,000 tonnes of CO2e per year, which corresponds to roughly the annual emissions of 4,900 passenger cars.

«The Kuopio region is the most important milk production region in Finland, and Eastern Finland is a significant area for food production in general. In Eastern Finland, the food production chain, from fields to dinner tables, employs a total of over 20,000 people. That means the region is a significant contributor for the security of food supply and food exports in Finland as a whole,» says Ylitalo.

The Valio Lapinlahti factory employs roughly 285 professionals. The location is an important employer throughout North Savo, as it provides job opportunities for a wide range of experts in areas like manufacturing, packaging, warehouse, laboratory and maintenance, as well as various managerial and expert tasks in automation and process development and design.