Farm diversification pioneer Mackie's of Scotland has made another huge investment in its bid to become Britain's greenest company

The family-run Aberdeenshire business, which produces more than 10 million litres of ice cream every year, has installed a £4.5 million low carbon refrigeration system designed to cut energy use by up to 80%, while also improving the quality and texture of the product with its increased cooling power.

“The installation of the spiral freezer marks a major milestone in this project," said Mackie's project manager, Yzanne Turbett. "In our early planning phase we had no inclination of the problems which the country would face last year and the building work was indeed delayed at the start of the first lockdown.

“Despite these ongoing challenges we have managed to finish our plant room which contains the core of the new refrigeration system that will be fully operational later this year," continued Ms Turbett. “This is a much more complex project than Mackie’s has ever taken on before, with so many different aspects to the build and new technology to be implemented."

The freshly filled ice cream tubs will enter the new spiral freezer at the base of one drum, spiral up to the top, pass to the top of the second drum and spiral down to the bottom of the second drum and the outlet. The new freezer can reduce the temperature of the ice cream, at the rate of almost 7000 litres of ice cream per hour, from -4 °C to -18 °C, with benefits for both the texture and consistency of the finished product.

The next phase in the construction project will see the installation of a new biomass system as it will eventually use biomass heat in the ammonia-based refrigeration plant.

The entire project is scheduled to be completed by Autumn this year and is targeting ambitious CO2 savings of up to 80% and energy costs of 70-80%. It is this and the innovative combination of proven technology, which Mackie's hope will create an exemplar facility for the Scottish food industry, and successfully qualified the project for support of a £2.05 million grant from the Scottish Government’s Low Carbon Infrastructure Transition Programme.

The Scottish Government support, part-funded by the 2014-2020 European Regional Development Fund programme, will be matched by investment of more than £2.5 million from Mackie’s.