Cheesy grins at Fonterra open day

By Dairy News

Fonterra opened the doors of its newly rebuilt cheese plant to bring the Stanhope community inside as part of a Legendairy open day in September.

More than 500 people — including Fonterra farmers, staff, their families and the local community — turned out for a fun-filled family day with face painting, jumping castles, a petting zoo, live music, the art mural exhibition and a barbecue lunch. Many took the opportunity to take a peek inside the new cheese plant.

Fonterra site manager Jason Wright said it was a “fantastic” day of celebration with farmers, staff, and the entire community who supported Fonterra after a fire destroyed the previous cheese plant in 2014.

“Stanhope is known as the ‘Town of the Tastiest Cheese’, so we were delighted to bring people into the plant and show them how we make the cheese,” Mr Wright said.

Fonterra Australia managing director René Dedoncker welcomed the crowds and said that out of the devastation of the fire had come the opportunity to invest in Stanhope cheese and to grow the dairy industry in the region.

“The new cheese plant gives us a great foundation for even more growth. We’re already looking to the next stage and at ways we can reinvest in Stanhope capacity and grow our milk pool even further,” Mr Dedoncker said.

More than 300 people were taken on exclusive tours through the factory, experiencing first-hand the processes involved in turning northern Victorian farmers’ milk into Stanhope cheese, which is now sent around Australia and to the world.

State Member for Euroa and Victorian Nationals deputy leader Steph Ryan was also among those enjoying the festivities on the day.

“It was great to see so many people from the local community coming together to mark this milestone,” Ms Ryan said.

“The opening of the new cheese plant has injected over $30 million into the local economy and has created around 30 new jobs; this is definitely worth celebrating. This was truly a great day in the heart of Victoria’s dairy country.”

The event also showcased the art mural exhibition, giving crowds an opportunity to see some of the 18 000 individual photographs captured in the massive 48 m by 5 m mosaic mural displayed on the wall of Fonterra’s cheese plant.

Long-term Stanhope resident Bob Holschier is just one of the many faces featured in the mural.

“This mural will be of great benefit to the Stanhope community, as it will eventually attract visitors from far and wide,” Mr Holschier said.

“(This) was a day that brought people together to celebrate Fonterra’s continued involvement in our local community, and we appreciate their commitment to our Legendairy town.”