A HAMPSHIRE dairy is set to create over 25 new jobs in a multi-million pound expansion.

Medina Dairy, a supplier of dairy, bakery and fresh milk will expand their operations to include retail, convenience and wholesale and food service sectors, investing £3.5m for the project.

They have already commenced a major upgrade of Watson’s Dairy in Swanmore which will see greater flexibility towards operations through a new high speed filling line, additional milk and cream silos and automatic trolley packing which will mean that the products of 96 dairy farmers will be processed at the dairy.

Watsons which supplies major retailers including Sainsbury’s and Iceland currently has 95 employees at the site with the additional 25 roles expected to be created over the next six months.

Managing director Mike Sheldon said: “This major investment at Watsons will further enhance our ability to be a credible and competitive supplier of fresh milks and cream to major retailers.

“Medina has already made strong progress winning major fresh milk supply contracts with the likes of Iceland Foods and Sainsbury’s, and this latest investment will enhance our offer to both existing and new customers.”

Medina Dairy, who develop Watson’s branded Milk generates annual sales of £65m and anticipate the expansion work to be completed by late spring.

The news follows worries that UK dairy farming is declining after it was reported by the National Farmers Union that the UK had lost over 5,000 dairy farms in the last 10 years with 277 dairy farmers getting out of dairying in the last 12 months alone.

NFU regiona spokesperson Isobel Bretherton welcomed the investment, she said: “We want people to buy local and this investment is great news, Watsons is a recognized Brand in Hampshire and has developed a strong presence in convenience stores."