GEA and Hochwald: First milk intake in Europe's most modern dairy plant

- GEA equips dairy in Mechernich, Germany, with entire milk processing technology
- Cutting-edge process technology and design ensure sustainable operation
- Hochwald to start commercial production in new facility in 2022; plant to process around 800 million liters of milk annually

Mechernich, October 28, 2021 – GEA Group AG and Hochwald Foods GmbH yesterday celebrated the first milk intake of a new, highly efficient dairy near Cologne together with all employees of the large construction site. The new plant in the German town of Mechernich will be the most modern dairy in Europe and will start commercial production as early as January 2022.

Stefan Klebert, CEO GEA, is impressed by the project’s progress: “GEA has defied the challenges in Mechernich. We kept this greenfield project on track through the Covid 19 period and the flood in summer 2021: we are on schedule and in exceptionally constructive cooperation with our long-standing customer.” In the meantime, commissioning of the various process steps is underway. “Hochwald's new facility is a lighthouse project that we can all be proud of.”

GEA's highly efficient process technology lays the foundation for sustainable production of the new dairy. For example, the particularly short downtimes of the GEA plant ensure resource-saving operation. In addition, the sophisticated cleaning-in-place (CIP) concept saves water. Energy-efficient heat exchangers return the otherwise wasted waste heat from the process to an energy cycle for reuse elsewhere.

In the future, Hochwald Foods will process around 800 million liters of milk per year in the new plant into high-quality dairy products such as UHT milk, UHT cream, UHT mixed milk products as well as condensed milk. Detlef Latka, CEO Hochwald Foods, takes the first milk intake as an opportunity to thank all those involved in the project for their outstanding adherence to deadlines and quality in the course of the project so far: “Four years ago, the members of our cooperative paved the way for the construction of a new dairy with their resolution. From the search for land to the planning and construction work, the project is the result of a great team effort of which we can already be proud today. We will also overcome the final hurdles together until the start of commercial production next year.”

As a general equipment supplier, GEA's contract includes the execution planning, building, delivery, assembly and commissioning as well as acceptance of all process-related and operational treatment and processing machinery for the manufacturing of the various dairy products. The Mechernich plant focusses on products with a long shelf life, a benchmark field for GEA's aseptic technology[1]. This ensures the quality and taste of food to last six months and longer – even without cooling and preservatives, which in turn improves the environmental balance of the products.

About GEA

GEA is one of the world's largest systems suppliers to the food, beverage and pharmaceutical ­industries. The internationally active industrial technology group focuses on machines and plants as well as sophisticated process technology, components and comprehensive services. With more than 18,000 employees, the Group generated sales of more than EUR 4.6 billion in fiscal year 2020. A key focus is on making customers' production processes ever more sustainable and efficient. GEA's plants, processes and components help to significantly reduce CO2 emissions, the use of plastics and food waste in production worldwide. In line with its corporate mission statement "Engineering for a better world", GEA is thus making a decisive contribution to a sustainable future.

GEA is listed in the German MDAX and the STOXX® Europe 600 Index, and is also among the companies comprising the
DAX 50 ESG and MSCI Global Sustainability Indices.

About Hochwald Foods GmbH

Hochwald Foods GmbH is the third-largest dairy company in Germany with a milk processing output of more than 2.3 billion kg of milk and around 1.65 billion euros in sales in 2020. With production sites in Germany and the Netherlands, the company covers the full range of dairy products. Hochwald owns well-known brands such as Bärenmarke, Lünebest, Glücksklee, Elinas and Hochwald, as well as trademarks and international brands such as Bonny. Hochwald has set itself the goal of becoming an international marketing-oriented dairy specialist. To this end, the company is relying on its greatest strengths: its cooperative members and its employees. Cooperatives do not rely on short-term participation, but rather on long-term cooperation and organisation – principles on which sustainable business is built.

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