The facility has a capacity approaching 50,000 tons of dried products per year, and is said to be one of the largest and most efficient of its type in Europe, claims Volac.
Demand for whey proteins has climbed steadily in recent years, driven primarily by the sports nutrition and functional food market which uses whey protein concentrates and isolates extensively. In 2002 consumption of all whey products came in at nearly 770,000 tonnes.
Volac says its new plant will allow it to meet customers' requests for concentrated proteins in nutritional bars, powder blends for weight loss products and RTD beverages.
"The plant extends our range to include WPC80. We've only had small quantities of this product available to now but the new facility allows us to offer a significant supply of this quality product," James Neville, Volac managing director, told NutraIngredients.com.
Volac is also looking to target more mainstream foods, which are increasingly formulated with higher protein for evolving consumer demand.
"Atkins has raised awareness in general of high protein, low-carbohydrate diets and we are seeing substantial growth [for this type of product] in Europe, where before it was only seen in the US," added Neville.
Volac first announced plans for the plant in 2002, when it set up the venture with Dutch cheese co-op D.O.C Kaas. The production processes are highly flexible, allowing the company to manufacture both whey protein concentrates for foods (around 10 per cent of the total output) as well as lactose-based products for animal feed.
"Quality has been the key objective throughout the entire design and build stages of this project," said Neville, adding that the plant uses many state-of-the-art production techniques.
"The quality of the facility and the size enables us to go after larger consumer food companies, which are increasingly interested in producing healthy products," he added.
"We are now one of Europe's largest producers of nutritionally elite whey based products - and that is a very exciting prospect indeed for our company and for the industry as a whole."