Hochwald’s new UHT plant in Mechernich

GEA Group and Hochwald Foods have celebrated the first milk intake of the new dairy near Cologne together with the employees of the large construction site. The new plant in the German town of Mechernich is said to 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: “We kept this greenfield project on track through the Covid-19 period and the flood in summer 2021: we are on schedule and in constructive co-operation with our long-standing customer.” In the meantime, commissioning of the various process steps is underway.

GEA’s process technology offers short downtimes for the GEA plant and ensures resource-saving operation. In addition, the 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 litres of milk per year in the new plant into dairy products such as UHT milk, UHT cream, UHT mixed milk products as well as condensed milk and UHT drinking yogurt. Detlef Latka, CEO Hochwald Foods, notes, “Four years ago, the members of our co-operative paved the way for the construction of a new dairy. 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. We will also overcome the final hurdles together until the start of commercial production next year.”

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. 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.

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