The Bega signs officially went up at Koroit on Friday, marking the first day of business for the company at the former Murray Goulburn factory.
Bega Cheese chair Barry Irvin said the $250 million deal to take on the site was good news for workers and the wider region.
“There’s a little over 100 (staff) coming across. Basically, the staff that were here,” Mr Irvin said.
“I think that’s really another positive. People can feel secure about their prospects and jobs after a number of years of turmoil.”
Mr Irvin said Bega had been collecting milk in the south-west for a decade and would now be looking to increase supply from the approximately 100 million litres collected in the region, as well as growing the factory’s capacity.
“We’re always looking to grow and expand. There is a lot of opportunity here, there is a lot of unused capacity that we will look to utilise and also look to refine the business bringing in the knowledge we already have,” he said.
“Our field service team will get very active very quickly in terms of recruiting supply. We’ve had a very positive response from the dairy farmers down here, I think they’re very pleased to see the facility purchased… because we have been here for 10 years a lot of people know us already. We’ve already had lots of inquiries.”
Mr Irvin said the takeover was important to the south-west region.
“For us, it’s really nice to own such a significant facility and it gives us a great opportunity to grow,” he said. “For farms it also gives them a really nice choice.
“One of the attractions for us was that this factory fits in very well with what we do, particularly up at Tatura, with nutritional powders and those sorts of products.”
Member for South West Coast Roma Britnell said it was a big day for Koroit and the wider region and the move demonstrated confidence in the region’s dairy industry.
“I think it’s good for the Koroit community, the people who work here at the factory and great for the Victorian dairy industry, particularly in south-west Victoria,” she said.
Bega Cheese bought the plant, which produces butter and milk powders, from Canadian dairy giant Saputo for $250 million.
Murray Goulburn had operated the plant since 1966. The Koroit and Tower Hill Butter and Cheese Company built the factory in 1888.
Moyne Shire and former Koroit riding councillor, Jim Doukas, said Bega Cheese’s arrival was a positive for the town and its farmers.
“It’s a big weight off everyone’s shoulders,” Cr Doukas said.