MURRAY Goulburn has announced an immediate $19.1 million investment in its Leongatha facilities, lifting the site’s UHT manufacturing output by approximately 70 million litres of additional capacity each year.
It is a positive move by Australia’s largest dairy food company, a signal that business is looking up after last year’s 12 per cent unilateral – including at Leongatha – cut in the workforce.
However, a spokesperson for MG said that no increase in jobs is expected at Leongatha, though “we will maintain and up-skill existing roles”.
The Leongatha upgrade is part of Murray Goulburn Co-operative Co. Limited’s planned $200 million investment in leading-edge dairy food manufacturing facilities for UHT milk, butter/spreads and cheese, announced by MG Managing Director Gary Helou in August.
According to Mr Helou, MG is making the significant investment in its Leongatha plant to help meet immediate increased demand for UHT milk.
“The demand for Australian dairy products is growing rapidly. To meet the demand for UHT milk, we realised we had to make the upgrade at Leongatha now.”
Mr Helou said the expansion and upgrade of MG’s UHT manufacturing footprint had been prioritised, as the business is currently operating at capacity.
“The Leongatha upgrade will help MG meet immediate demand for UHT milk from world markets, particularly Asia, while the long term strategy is confirmed,” he said. “It will also help us to lift our supplier-shareholder returns.”
The Leongatha investment involves the installation of two new leading-edge production lines.
“It will increase our ability to supply growth markets and improve our productivity,” Mr Helou said. “The upgrade will also mean new opportunities for employees.”
The installation will be carried out by contractors sourced by the equipment suppliers. Work will begin later this month and is expected to be completed by the end of the year.
The Leongatha upgrade is being implemented in parallel to MG developing its longer term investment manufacturing strategy to meet future domestic and international demand, and to increase MG’s returns to its supplier-shareholders. A progress report on the project and other investment plans will be confirmed later this year.