KOROIT has been given a vote of confidence by dairy co-operative Murray Goulburn which has announced it would double butter production at the plant.
The investment decision comes only weeks after the south-west milk factory suffered its second round of job cuts in two months, bringing the total number of retrenchments from the site to 29 as part of the company’s aim to trim $100 million in costs this financial year.
High-tech equipment will be imported and installed next year to boost output capacity to 20,000 tonnes a year.
The company did not divulge how much the expansion would cost or if extra staff would be employed.
MG managing director Gary Helou said $200m would be invested in the next three years across the company’s sites in manufacturing UHT milk, butter/spreads and cheese.
“The board has approved the installation of a new butter packing line at our Koroit plant that will allow MG to become a leading supplier of butter pats to fill existing and projected demand,” he said.
“We have been approached by several Australian and overseas customers who want additional consumer butter and blends supply.
“To meet this demand we need to significantly increase our consumer butter capacity to 20,000 tons (sic) a year and rejuvenate our blends plant.”
Koroit is the company’s biggest milk throughput site and is expected to handle close to a billion litres this year.
Moyne Shire Council mayor Cr Jim Doukas welcomed the announcement.
“Hopefully there will be more good news to come,” he said.
“There was disappointment in the recent cuts, but it could have been a lot worse.
“This district has good milk production security and changes at the Koroit factory should mean better returns for farmers.”
Mr Helou said there would be further reviews of facilities for new butter blends and other new products from cream and excess milk in peak supply periods.
“Our goal is to produce the lowest-cost consumer butter and blends in Australia and tap into the strongly growing retail and food service markets in Asia and the Middle East,” Mr Helou said.
Murray Goulburn will invest in newer UHT facilities at Leongatha and Edith Creek Tasmania to double capacity to 500 million litres and will establish automated cheese production facilites in Victoria.
See your ad hereThe co-operative is Australia’s largest dairy food company and exporter, manufacturing about three billion litres a year – a third of the nation’s milk.