NEW ERA FOR EDITH CREEK
A MILK factory in the state’s North-West has been sold to a Thai company on the eve of its closure and the small community is already celebrating a more prosperous new era.
Murray Goulburn announced in May it would close three facilities, including its UHT milk plant at Edith Creek, by the end of the year.
The announcement sent the 120 employees at the time and the Circular Head community into shock.
Yesterday afternoon 80 workers clocked off for the last time under MG’s ownership but those staying in the region are hoping to be back on site in a few months.
MG said this week it had sold Edith Creek to Dutch Mill (Australia), a subsidiary of Dutch Mill group of Thailand. The privately owned group processes and markets dairy products throughout Asia.
Workers, the Circular Head Council, the Tasmanian Chamber of Commerce and Industry and farming groups all welcomed the sale.
The Thai company has bought six dairy farms in Circular Head over the past three years and those are leased by the TCCI’s deputy chairman, Smithton local Paul Arnold.
Mayor Daryl Quilliam said the company’s move into processing was a watershed moment that would bring “great wealth to the region.”
“I have met the company’s chairman, Thirayuth Chaisawangwong, on a number of occasions and I can say he is a special man with a large vision and a deep social conviction.”
Mayor Quilliam said Dutch Mill curently had a daily reach of 30 million customers across Asia.
“This is the sort of market we have longed for. At present they buy large quantities of milk powder from New Zealand to augment their dairy factories in Thailand,” he said.
This is the sort of market we have longed for DARYL QUILLIAM
The TCCI said Edith Creek was a key asset for Circular Head and the Tasmanian dairy industry.
Dutch Mill expects the plant to be back in operation by the middle of 2018 but how many current workers will be re-employed is not certain.
The National Union of Workers has asked Dutch Mill to confirm if workers could and if the same wages and conditions would apply.
Tasmanian Farmers and Graziers Association dairy council chairman Andrew Lester said the sale would keep up competition for milk in the region and perhaps open up more Tasmanian branding opportunities.
MG has accepted a bid for its business from Canada’s Saputo, but the deal did not include Edith Creek.