The new Fonterra cheese factory in Stanhope is expected to produce 45,000 tonnes of cheese per year for domestic and export markets.
The factory should open before June this year and dairy suppliers stand to benefit its demand for milk.
According to Fonterra chief executive Rene Dedoncker, the north Victorian factory will fill the need for speciality cheeses such as soft brie and blue cheese, which the company sees as a gap in its Australian manufacturing base.
As for overseas exports, a company spokesperson cited a growing demand for Mozzarella across Asia, particularly in China and Japan.
“The market [is] in short supply, so we expect required milk volumes to be sizeable,” she told The Australian Dairy Farmer.
Fonterra’s milk supply general manager Matt Watt said the factory will see a 50 per cent increase in capacity compared to the previous Stanhope factory, which was demolished and rebuilt after a fire caused damage throughout the plant.
“To make the most of this additional capacity, we know we’ll need to be competitive across our milk pools, and particularly in northern Victoria, to retain and attract supply,” Watt told ADF.
“We’ve been talking to farmers interested in supplying us about what we can offer them and their business. The most important way we support our farmers is by offering a strong milk price, based on the price we can earn in the global market for their milk.”
Bonlac Supply company chairman Tony Marwood said that while nothing has been signed off, it is clear that Fonterra has made a big investment in cheese in Stanhope, and that whatever deals come from the new plant, they will be fair to all suppliers.
The new factory will retain all employees from the previous factory, as well as hiring an additional 30 employees.