Sale of NSW milk factory to save jobs

The proposed sale of Hastings Co-operative Dairy Factory to Sungrow Australia, currently under consideration by Co-operative shareholder members, is reportedly the only way for the factory to remain in operation.

Manager of the Dairy Factory, David Rideout, said the factory won’t be able to survive without a major injection of capital and the sale to Sungrow Australia could provide that extra funding.

The factory employs 20 staff whose jobs are at stake should the sales fail to go through. Closure of the factory would affect the financial security for local milk producers.

Sungrow Australia said it plans to invest in major equipment upgrade at the factory, with expansion into new product lines, including powdered milk.

Under the proposed agreement, Hastings Dairy will continue to own its existing dairy product names with Sungrow Australia to produce and market the products, and all existing employees will be given the option to continue working under the new ownership.

The milk industry in NSW has been under a lot of pressure due to the import of cut price milk and the proposed sale is consider by Rideout as a  “win-win” not only for factory employees, but also the local community and local farmers.

Last week the Hastings Co-operative hosted a series of information sessions on the proposed sale of the dairy factory starting on 24 August 2011.

The first session was held at Wauchope Senior Citizens Centre last Wednesday. A second session was held that evening. Each session ran for two hours. The Co-operative held a further two information sessions at Port Macquarie last Friday.

The sessions were held to inform shareholders on all aspects of the proposed dairy factory sale.

Shareholder members have until September 23 to vote for or against the sale. The Co-operative is owned by over 8900 shareholders.

Established in 1916, Hastings Co-operative is located in Wauchope on the mid north coast of New South Wales.

The co-operative looks after operations including:

•The Dairy Products division, which includes cheeses and yoghurts and Hastings Milk
•Three IGA supermarkets in the Wauchope CBD, Timbertown and in Gordon Street, Port Macquarie
•Two Farm Supplies outlets in Wauchope and Comboyne, which is dedicated to agricultural and irrigation supplies
•The Fuel Supplies division, which includes Ampol and Caltex service stations at each end of Wauchope, and a Bulk Fuel operation which supplies fuel to farmers, industrial customers and retail service stations based in northern NSW.
•Bottle-O Liquor Barn, a drive through bottle shop located next to the Cedar Service Station on Wauchope’s High Street

Image courtesy of Hastings

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