The head of Bega’s Koroit dairy factory says the company is always looking for opportunities for growth and value adding for its dairy products.
Chris Evans, the Koroit factory’s operations manager, said development opportunities would come with growth in the factory’s milk supply.
“If you want milk supply, you a need a constant and good milk price for suppliers,” Mr Evans said.
Bega has worked to build up the milk supply for the Koroit plant, this week announcing a loyalty payment and farmgate milk price increase to lift its payments to suppliers by 14 cents a kilogram milk solids (kgms).
Last year it offered new suppliers a bonus of 25c kgms if they supplied Koroit for two years and 50c/kgms for three years supply. The bonus last year was on top of Bega’s opening milk price for 2018-2019 of $5.85/kgms.
Those efforts to increase supply are bearing fruit with Mr Evans saying the Koroit plant is this financial year set to process about 400 million litres, 60 million litres more than the past financial year.
The increase in milk supply had led Bega to take on seven more staff at Koroit, Mr Evans said.
He said Bega’s purchase of the Koroit factory from Saputo last year had given the more than 100 workers at the plant job security.
The plant had a troubled time in recent years under Murray Goulburn’s (MG) ownership with jobs cut after milk supply plummeted when MG slashed the milk prices it paid suppliers.
MG’s big drop in production at its plants across Australia undermined the company’s profitability and it sold them to Canadian dairy giant Saputo last year.
But Saputo already owned the Warrnambool Cheese and Butter factory at Allansford and the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission told Saputo it had to sell the Koroit factory to stop it having too much control of the regional milk market.
Bega was the lucky bidder, paying $250 million for the plant, which was the ‘jewel in MG’s crown’ with a processing capacity of one billion litres.
Mr Evans took on the job as the factory’s operations manager last August, having worked at the plant for most of his working life.
Koroit born and bred, he started stacking bags of powdered milk at the plant, working his way up to a supervisory role in 2001 and expanding his skills with stints for MG at its Cobram and Tasmanian plants.
He is deeply involved in the Koroit community with generations of his family living there and as president of the Koroit Irish Festival committee. He has also been involved with some of Koroit’s sports clubs but said sporting prowess was not a strongpoint.