SA cheese factory sale saves 100 jobs

United Dairy Power’s (UDP) decision to buy to two cheese factory in South Australia from Lion, formally National Foods, will save about 100 manufacturing jobs.

The Victorian-based milk processor will operate the former Lion’s Murray Bridge and Jervois cheese manufacturing facilities. Transfer of ownership and production will take place over the coming months.

UDP expects to have taken on full control of the two sites in late November. The company has solid growth plans for the next 12 months which includes additional milk volume for the two sites. UDP said it will immediately increase production capacity at the Jervois factory.

Under the terms sale, UDP has acquired the Caboolture brand. The company will also contract pack a number of Lion products, including Le Rice, Pura Sour Cream and Mozzarella cheese, at the two sites.

UDP will hold onto existing workers and may added more staff to its current workforce.

"All the employees will earn their entitlements and move to us, because we’re buying each site as going concerns and we’ll be expanding on that and looking to employ more," UDP managing director Tony Esposito told ABC last week.

The sale of the two sites is part of Lion’s plan to consolidate its manufacturing operations in Tasmania.

In March this year, then-owners Lion informed staff of its intention to sell the Murray Bridge and Jervois site following a cheese manufacturing review.

Speculations arose earlier this year that UDP will purchase the two plants after the company advertised for milk on South Australian radio stations.

The confirmed sale of the Murray Bridge and Jervois cheese manufacturing sites has dispersed any uncertainty surrounding the future of the two sites.

The sale will secure ongoing employment and economic activity in the region, and is considered a win win for factory workers as well as the local community.

The privately-owned Victoria-based United Dairy Power has operations in Poowong and Shepparton, with a head office in South Melbourne.

located 100 km east of Melbourne, the Poowong site is UDP’s main milk receival site. The facility reportedly has an “A” rating Dairy Food Safety programme and is set up to receive, process and deliver milk to local city milk, cheese and yogurt factories.

The Poowong Depot has a Westfalia AG skimming-separator with self-cleaning bowl and a capacity to handle 25000 litres per hour. This is coupled with a Tuchenhagen product recovery system, (pneumatic pigging system-no water) for the loading and unloading of raw and finished milk products.

Leading Australasia beverage and food company Lion was formed in October 2009 under the name ‘Lion Nathan National Foods’ following Kirin Holdings’ purchase of Lion Nathan which it merged with National Foods; a business it has owned since 2007.

In 2011, the Lion Nathan National Foods was change to Lion.

Lion currently employs about to 8,000 people across Australia and New Zealand. Its product portfolio includes in beer, spirits, wine, milk, fresh dairy foods, juice, cheese and soy beverages. The company has operations in every Australian state, as well as New Zealand, Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia. It is headquartered in Sydney.

Image: United Dairy Power