$125m to double cheese production

By Geoff Adams

Cheese production at Stanhope’s Fonterra factory will almost double following the company’s decision to invest a further $125 million at the site.

The investment in the new cheese plant and aligned facilities will increase cheese production by a further 35, 000 tonnes for a range of cheeses including cheddar and mozzarella.

Stanhope currently produces 45 ,000 tonnes of product including cheddar, mozzarella, gouda, parmesan, pecorino, romano and ricotta.

Stanhope site manager Jason Wright said the plant, which officially reopened in August 2017 following a $140 million rebuild and expansion, was seen as an important asset in Fonterra Australia’s push to make the most of domestic and global demand opportunities for products like cheese.

“It’s important for dairy in Australia that we’re showing confidence and investing in expansion,” Mr Wright said.

“We believe in the long-term demand prospects for dairy, and especially for cheese given the growth we’ve seen in food service.”

The cheese investment follows on from a $1.3 million investment to support product innovation, as Stanhope rolls out its Perfect Italiano Ricotta Stir Through for pasta and a further $6 million to secure efficiency gains.

“Ricotta is a staple product for us and our investments have enabled us to launch a first-of-its-kind innovation,” Mr Wright said.

“We’re confident the dollars spent in the plant will bring solid returns to farmers with these value-add, fit-for-purpose offers.”

Mr Wright said with the cheese expansion the site was keener than ever to secure additional supply.

The Stanhope site employs about 150 people including the milk supply group, with about 110 working in the factory.

At Fonterra Australia’s largest site of Cobden, AU$13.5 million is earmarked for robotic palletisers and improvements to the butter plant that produces Australia’s leading butter brand of Western Star, while another AU$8.6 million is being invested at Dennington in a new 25 kg packing line for nutritional powders and efficiency improvements.

Fonterra has also invested $12 million in its Tasmanian sites at Wynyard and Spreyton, $7 million at Darnum in Gippsland to support higher production of nutritional powders, whole and skim milk powders for the domestic and international export markets, $13.5 million for projects at Cobden and $8.6 million at Dennington in western Victoria.