Last products roll off Rochester line

By Dairy News

ALTHOUGH it has been a long time coming, it was the end of an era last month when Murray Goulburn’s Rochester plant produced its last dairy products and was officially closed.

It was a sad day for the workers, their families and the town.

Saputo chief executive Lionel Saputo Jnr said in November there were no plans to reopen Rochester if Saputo was successful in its takeover bid, but he left the door ajar if milk was to return to the business.

“We trust the evaluation that the MG management has taken,” he said.

“Again, with 1.9 billion litres of milk there isn’t enough milk in the system to support those plants reopening.

“Until such time we come back to a higher level of milk and need incremental capacity, I don’t think the plants will open up.”

Mr Saputo said there were opportunities to drive efficiencies and “shave some costs” in the MG business, pointing to “something as simple as lease and leases of space MG may have or perhaps some other expenses that may not be necessary”.

Rochester was closed in an attempt to create efficiencies following an exodus of suppliers.

Milk supply from Rochester region has transferred to Murray Goulburn’s Cobram factory along with the manufacturing of many cheese products previously produced at Rochester.

Whey powder production at Rochester will move in time to the company’s Leongatha site.

The Rochester site was acquired as part of the merger with the Rochester Butter and Canning Company in 1963.

Campaspe Shire councillor Leigh Wilson said there had been some interest from outside businesses in the site, but nothing was yet firm.

Asked about the mood in the town on the last day, Cr Wilson said it was a sad moment, but most people were just glad to see it over with and they wanted to move on.

“We are a resilient community. We will survive,” he said.