FONTERRA’S Stanhope factory is set to double in size after receiving a financial boost of $125 million.
The plant will be a key beneficiary from investments of more than $165 million which the company has announced to boost capacity and increase efficiencies across each of its seven sites.
The investment in the new cheese plant and aligned facilities will increase cheese production by a further 35,000 metric tonnes at the site for a range of cheeses including cheddar and mozzarella.
Fonterra Stanhope currently produces 45,000 metric tonnes of product including cheddar, mozzarella, gouda, parmesan, pecorino, romano and ricotta.
Site manager Jason Wright says the plant - which officially reopened in August 2017 following a $140 million rebuild and expansion - is 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,” he said.
We believe in the long term demand prospects for dairy, and especially for cheese given the growth we’ve seen in foodservice.”
The cheese investment follows on from a $1.3 million investment to support product innovation with the factory rolling out new varieties as well as 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. 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.
Mr Wright says with the cheese expansion the site is ready to secure additional supply.
“Our Australian milk pool has grown by 400 million litres this season, and with this new investment we plan to grow our milk further,” he said.
“We expect the growth will come through from our existing farmers who wish to grow, coupled with milk from new suppliers joining Fonterra.
“We’ve employed an additional 15 drivers after investing more than $8 million in 14 truck and trailer units across our milk collection regions in Victoria and Tasmania.”