A $19 million development at Murray Goulburn’s Koroit factory will make it one of the nation’s biggest producers of infant nutritional milk powders.
Launching the investment at the factory yesterday, managing director Gary Helou said nutritional powders were the fastest growing and highest value dairy foods and were key to the co-operative’s growth plans.
“Koroit is set to become one of the major, major producers of this very high-value product,” Mr Helou said.
Work on the project has already started, with completion scheduled for May next year.
The project will involve installing the technology to produce the products on existing production lines.
The investment at Koroit is part of a $127 million expansion which also includes $74 million for consumer cheese and $19 million for infant nutritional production at Cobram, and $14 million in dairy beverages at Edith Creek in Tasmania.
The Koroit expansion will not create any more jobs at the factory.
“It will probably sustain current jobs and secure them. This about securing the future of our workforce,” Mr Helou said.
He emphasised the importance of the Koroit plant and the south-west supply area.
“Koroit is not only our biggest facility but also the biggest dairy food facility in Australia,” he said.
“The factory is of a scale and technology that is quite significant not just for MG but for the Australian dairy industry.
“We receive close to a billion litres of milk a year. When you join the billion-litre club you’re right there — you rate among some of the bigger plants around the globe.
“Our interest in this area is huge. We see it as a growth area and growth is the central pillar of where our business is going.”
Mr Helou said the investment represented a shift in strategy for the co-operative, with Asian consumers being the primary target.
“Typically we produce for Coles, Woolworths or whatever and export surplus production. This is different — the investment is specifically aimed at Asian consumers from China to Indonesia.
“That means connecting your manufacturing facilities and your distribution chain directly to the Asian consumer, giving them a range of customised dairy foods that they want.”
Mr Helou said high-value infant nutritionals were vital in the co-operative’s plan to lift payments to farmers by a dollar per kilogram of milk solids.