IT has survived a few changes of owner and gone under many names, but yesterday Fonterra celebrated 125 years of milk processing at its Cobden site.
Staff and long-time suppliers joined factory management for the unveiling of a commemorative plaque to mark the occasion. Site manager Liam Richardson unveiled the plaque, together with the site’s oldest suppliers, the Billings family of Larpent, and long-term employee Chris Boyle, of Camperdown.
Supplier Mark Billings attended with his father Alan, representing the third and fourth generations of the family to supply the site.
The Cobden site had already been operating for 40 years when Mark’s great-grandfather Frank moved to their Larpent farm in 1928 and started supplying the factory through the then Colac Dairying Company.
Frank Billings had previously had a dairy farm in the unlikely locality of Melbourne suburb Ashburton. Development had started to encroach so he bought the Colac farm and walked his 20 cows from Ashburton to Colac over four days.
“We’ve always supplied the same company,” said Mark, who is also a Bonlac Supply Company director.
“For me it’s the history. My dad was a Bonlac Milk Supply officer so we have a strong connection to Bonlac and Fonterra.
“It’s the local pride in seeing our product on the shelf and knowing that we contribute to it.”
The site, started in 1888, has been previously known as the Cobden and District Pioneer Cheese and Butter Factory, the Camperdown and Glenormiston Dairy Company and Bonlac.