Brownes seeks more WA milk for Chinese cheese

WA’s oldest dairy was bought by Chinese dairy giant Shanghai Ground Food Tech in December, voicing plans to grow the business.

A major component of facilitating that growth involves a $10 million investment to restart the mothballed Brunswick Cheese Factory in the South West.

At full capacity, in three to five years time, the factory would manufacture up to 6000 tonnes of cheese a year, using 60 million litres of milk, equivalent to 15 per cent of the State’s current annual supply.

Most of the cheese produced would be exported to Brownes’ parent company in China.

Brownes managing director Tony Girgis said the ability to manufacture milk into cheese meant that the dairy’s 49 farmers had been told they could grow their production if they wished.

“We are pursuing a deliberate strategy of allowing current suppliers to grow in a progressive and well-managed way,” he said.

“A commitment I’ve made to our farmer base that we will give everyone in the pot a chance to grow.”

Brownes has asked its suppliers to provide their three-year milk production forecasts by end of May.

It was therefore too early to know how many would increase their scale, but Mr Girgis said that some farmers had already shared intentions to grow their business by at least 10 per cent over the next 12-18 months. There was no intention to take on additional suppliers, unless Brownes’ own farmers could not fulfil the dairy’s forecast requirements.

Separately, it remains unclear what corporate dairy farm Lactanz, a cluster of four farms in Scott River, north-east of Augusta, is planning for its circa 20 million litres of milk, given Harvey Fresh has advised it would not renew Lanctanz’s contract after it expires in July.

AAG Investment Management, which owns Lactanz, did not return calls.

By: Jenne Brammer

Source: The West Australian


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