A NEW dairy processing venture is about to be launched in Camperdown, backed by a Queensland-based mining group and an agricultural investment company.
Camperdown Dairy International Pty Ltd will be established in the former Bonlac factory, now partly occupied by the unrelated Camperdown Dairy, which is a subsidiary of Aussie Farmers Direct.
It will produce infant nutritional formula and bulk milk powder.
The company is backed by the MCG Group, a Brisbane-based mining company headed by former Birregurra resident Bill McDonald, and the EAT Group which specialises in agricultural investment.
Camperdown Dairy International will be headed by Phil McFarlane, a co-founder and director of the EAT Group.
The company will control the entire supply chain from farm to distribution, moving away from the fragmented model that underpins the wider dairy industry.
“We have taken a different approach that groups the farmgate with the supply chain, which we believe will give a better return,” Mr McFarlane told The Standard.
The company has bought a number of farms in the south-west to supply the site, with an initial target of 100 million litres annually, and it will seek supply from other farms as the company grows and will initially employ 30 to 50 people.
Mr McFarlane said customers were already in place in Asia. “We have some large contracts in place for infant formula.”
He said high demand for the product, particularly from China, meant that buyers were willing to put large contracts on the table in advance, allowing the venture to proceed with confidence.
“We worked backwards from the customers to the assets we need to supply them.”
The company has bought the Camperdown site from De Cicco and will begin work on completion of the final stages of planning.
Work on the $120 million development is expected to start within a few months with demolition of some old infrastructure and building of a new spray drier. Mr McFarlane said the existing tenants would remain at the site.
Announcement of the venture comes just days after the Australian Dairy Farmers Co-operative, in partnership with Colac-based Bulla Dairy Foods, announced plans to seek 120 million litres of supply from the south-west, adding to already fierce competition for the region’s milk.
Bill McDonald told The Standard he is the sole owner of the MCG Group which he established in 2002. He has a successful track record of developing businesses and resource projects and was listed 8th on the BRW young rich list in 2012 with estimated wealth of $135 million.
The EAT Group is a Melbourne-based company that describes its business as being built on “a non-traditional approach to farm asset operations by taking a broader view of the supply chain and looking for opportunities to improve input and output efficiencies”.