INAZAWA CITY, Japan — Japanese dairy products manufacturer Meiji Holding has announced plans to build a new processing plant to meet its goals for increased production capacity for yogurt and drinking milk and to provide the company with better opportunities to reach a broader market.

Meiji Holding subsidiary Meiji Co Ltd is investing $140 million in the project, which will be located in Inazawa City, Aichi Prefecture. The new 27,800-sq-m plant is predicted to increase production capacity by 1.5 times compared to the present Aichi processing plant and to process 113,000 kL per year.

Work on the new facility is set to start in April 2013, with parts of it expected to be fully functional in September 2014. The completion of the entire project is scheduled for December 2014, when the new plant is predicted to be working to its full capacity and the old Aichi plant will cease operation. The facility will benefit from high-capacity but compact equipment, which will not only allow Meiji to increase its capacity but also to boost its competitiveness.

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The new plant is part of the group”s long-term development plan, Vision 2020, which aims to increase profits and strategically invest part of the earnings to secure future growth, Meiji Holding said in a statement released on November 28.

Meiji Co revealed that with the launch of the new plant, it aims to set new manufacturing standards that result in the production of high quality products that are both original and safe for consumers. The company also aims to reduce wastage dramatically and eventually eliminate it entirely, by implementing measures to conserve all raw materials, water, energy and the plant equipment. Apart from increasing production capacity, Meiji Co will also look into ways of providing more flexibility to meet the needs of various consumers in different market segments. Finally, the company will strive to continue working for the community and will focus on retaining consumer trust.

As part of the strategic development plan, Meiji Co will be expanding its core product brands – Meiji Oishii Gyunyu, Meiji Bulgaria Yogurt and Meiji Probio Yogurt LG21. The company intends to diversify production by manufacturing a range of milk beverages and products for home delivery. Probiotic yogurt products will be kept at the heart of the production, because they are considered Meiji”s biggest strength and most trusted products, the company said.

According to the Dairy Reporter website, Meiji is the largest processor of dairy in Japan and was ranked at number ten in the annual Rabobank Dairy Top 20, which lists the 20 largest dairy companies in the world.

For the six months to September 2012 the company reported net sales of $3.8 billion, which is a 22.4 percent growth on results for the first half of 2011/2012. Meiji believes that the increase was driven by a surge in yogurt sales and steady demand for processed dairy products.