R&R Boosts Ice Cream Capacity at Leeming Bar Plant in UK

R&R Ice Cream, the world’s third largest ice cream manufacturer, has completed a four-year, £25 million investment program at its Leeming Bar factory in North Yorkshire, England. The upgrade has enabled the company to increase production capability at the site by more than 20%. 

The factory has 22 production lines packing some 250 million liters of ice cream a year with a workforce of more than 500 people at peak production times. A wide assortment of products is manufactured, ranging from ice cream and lollies to frozen yoghurt in many different formats including tubs, cones, bars, desserts, stick novelties and ice cream sandwiches. Branded products made at Leeming Bar include Fab, Oreo, Smarties, Cadbury, Rowntrees and leading Yoomoo, as well as own label items for the United Kingdom’s leading retail supermarket operators.

ice cream RR“This latest investment means the factory is now one of the five largest ice cream and lolly production facilities in the world,” said Ryad Apasa, head of UK operations for R&R. “Despite achieving a significant increase in production – changes we have made to the energy supply and treatment of effluent mean the site’s carbon footprint has actually reduced slightly to 0.26 tCO2e/ton compared to 0.27 tCO2e/ton previously. We continue to focus on sustainability and are currently investigating installing photovoltaic cells on the factory roof.” 

R&R has installed a new CHP (Combined Heating and Power plant) to meet the demand for more power. Rather than spend £1.5 million on new cabling and upgrading a nearby sub-station, it opted for a natural gas-powered plant. When operational, the heat produced by the generator is itself used to produce hot water for the site, as well as steam which is used for general cleaning purposes.

Installing the CHP plant has led to significant savings in energy costs, and R&R estimates the £2 million investment in equipment will be repaid in just over three years.

More production has also meant that the capacity of the on-site effluent treatment plant has been increased from 600,000 liters to 1.5 million liters per day. The plant uses reverse osmosis, a separating method where very high pressures of around 80 bar force a solution through a semi-permeable membrane. Clean water passes through the membrane and is then re-cycled back to the factory while the waste is retained.

From early 2016 around 30,000 tons of this waste annually – some two-thirds of the total – will be taken to a nearby anaerobic digester, owned by Leeming Biogas Ltd. It will be used to produce biomethane, which will be fed directly into the local gas network which in turn supplies R&R with gas for its CHP system. The remaining waste will be used to enhance local agricultural land.

RRGenJames Thompson (left), head of operations at Stokesley, England-based anaerobic digestion plant developer JFS Associates, inspects the installation with Ryad Apasa, head of operations at R&R Ice Cream’s Leeming Bar site.

New product development has always been a focus at R&R Ice Cream and, as part of the investment program, selected manufacturing equipment has also been re-engineered.  This has enabled products such as the Cadbury Dairy Milk Marvellous Creations range, with its inclusions of jellies and popping candy which are new formats for the sector, to be made along with the popular Yoomoo lolly which has very high yoghurt content and is low in fat.

“Through using our skilled in-house engineering teams to adapt the existing production equipment, we can continue to advance the boundaries with new manufacturing techniques,” said Apasa.

Headquartered at Leeming Bar, the R&R Group employs over 3,500 people at three manufacturing sites in the UK as well as at factories on mainland Europe in Osnabrϋck, Germany; Plouéderne, Vayres and Dangé St Romain, France; Terni, Italy; and Mielic, Poland.