Brownes sold to Chinese dairy processor

By Dairy News

WESTERN AUSTRALIA’S 130-year-old Brownes Dairy has been purchased by a Chinese consortium keen to restart cheese production.

Brownes was sold by Sydney private equity firm Archer Capital, which purchased the WA processor in 2011 from Fonterra, to the consortium led by dairy giant Shanghai Ground Food Tech.

A statement from Brownes said the deal would create access to emerging overseas markets and increase potential for the development of new products and manufacturing capacities.

“The consortium was highly attracted to the Brownes Dairy business and operations, its heritage and long history, and the possibilities Brownes offers to grow the Western Australian dairy industry given its strong geographic location on the door step to Asia,” Brownes said.

“The consortium expects Brownes to remain the premier supplier of quality dairy to WA customers and looks forward to continuing to service the domestic WA market.”

“Not only will we seek to expand into new products such as cheese, but we will also be better positioned to take advantage of export opportunities and promote the WA dairy industry to a much wider audience.”

Brownes managing director Tony Girgis said there would be no disruption to suppliers.

Brownes made headlines in June when it was revealed new contacts would penalise suppliers who undersupplied milk.

The company had previously not renewed the contracts of four suppliers, forcing some suppliers to quit dairying.

Mr Girgis will remain at the helm under the new owners.

WAFarmers Dairy Section President Michael Partridge said it was a significant move that would present greater opportunities for Brownes’ suppliers.

“The new owner is a Chinese company that has experience in operating dairy businesses in China,” he said.

“It is hoped this understanding will gain the WA dairy industry greater access to markets in China and hopefully other Asian countries moving forward, which can only be embraced as a positive move, particularly if local manufacturing capacities are also developed.

“Expansion of cheese manufacturing capabilities would be of significant benefit to the state’s dairy industry and provide greater certainty for producers, particularly after what has been a difficult 18 months due to the lack of access into world markets and in balancing the state’s dairy supply.”