’”Stanhope’s reputation as a ‘Legendairy’ dairy community has been further cemented with the announcement of a $120million upgrade for the town’s Fonterra factory.
The new state-of-the-art facility will replace the hard cheese plant, which was destroyed by fire in December 2014, with a plant that will produce cheese for the domestic and export market.
In September, Dairy Australia named Stanhope the leading dairy community as part of its Legendairy campaign, winning $10000 for a new playground.
Bonlac Supply Co chairman Tony Marwood, from Echuca, welcomed the investment in high-end, high-value product for the domestic and overseas markets.
‘‘With the (Chinese) free trade agreement coming into place this should deliver better returns for farmers,’’ he said.
Mr Marwood said the investment signalled a move away from bulk commodity production and a concentration on higher value products.
The increased capacity would also result in a demand for more milk from suppliers.
‘‘From a farmer’s point of view there is a real leadership position being taken by Fonterra, which hopefully will deliver better returns.’’
The Fonterra announcement was attended by Victorian Agriculture Minister Jaala Pulford.
The new plant will create 30 more jobs, as well as a larger number during construction.
Campaspe Shire Mayor Leigh Wilson said the investment would keep more people living in towns, more children going to schools and more people involved in sporting clubs.
Production will be ramped up by 15000 extra tonnes a year, which is expected to result in demand for more milk from regional suppliers.
Construction of the new plant will begin next year, and is expected to be completed in 2017.
Fonterra Oceania managing director Judith Swales said investing in the new plant would help Fonterra deliver its multi-hub strategy to get the maximum value out of every drop of milk and drive increased returns from the business.
‘‘We are focusing on areas where we can win in a highly competitive market, and that means optimising our product mix and investing in higher value-add products that will deliver the best returns for our farmer shareholders,’’ Ms Swales said.
‘‘Rebuilding and expanding our Stanhope cheese plant is key to this.
‘‘The new state-of-the-art facility will be able to produce 45000tonnes of cheeses each year including parmesan, gouda and mozzarella.’’
Stanhope resident George Gemmill described it as: ‘‘The best Christmas present Stanhope could have. The flow-on will be enormous.’’