Kaimai Cheese fac­ing down­size

Matamata Chronicle - - News - By IRIS RIDDELL

The ar­ti­san cheese­maker Kaimai Cheese Com­pany is fac­ing down­siz­ing and a sub­stan­tial hit to the pocket this year but com­pany chair­man Wy­att Creech said its Wa­haroa cafe and fac­tory would live on through the dif­fi­cul­ties.

Mr Creech said the cafe would be af­fected as lit­tle as pos­si­ble be­cause it was work­ing well and was pop­u­lar with cus­tomers. ‘‘ We will be down­siz­ing by with­draw­ing from South Is­land con­tracts, ex­ports and hard cheese con­tracts. We have ceased pro­duc­tion at Te Mata (Hawke’s Bay) and will con­cen­trate all pro­duc­tion we do at Kaimai, Wa­haroa. But be­cause it’s a smaller busi­ness, it will un­for­tu­nately mean some re­dun­dan­cies.’’ Two peo­ple have al­ready lost their jobs at Wa­haroa, in­clud­ing gen­eral man­ager Sh­eryn Cook. Of the 40 em­ploy­ees at Wa­haroa, Mr Creech es­ti­mated four or five would be dropped. Last month, the Waikato Times re­ported that Kaimai posted a net loss of $3.6 mil­lion in the year ended March 31, 2010.

Mr Creech said the pur­chase of raw milk was a ma­jor com­po­nent in the over­all cost of the busi­ness and this year the cost was too high.

‘‘We don’t know what the price is go­ing to be [un­til the end of Fon­terra’s sea­son] and it’s dif­fi­cult to judge. Fon­terra charges a top-up pay­ment when the price of milk rises – which it has this sea­son – which re­flects the dif­fer­ence be­tween the price when the milk was pur­chased and the cur­rent, higher price.’’ The Kaimai Cheese Com­pany has pre­vi­ously ex­ported small ship­ments to places such as Aus­tralia and the Pa­cific Is­lands and Mr Creech said it could be­come an op­tion to re­sume these one day even though it was not pos­si­ble at present. ‘‘ We are not against [ex­port­ing] in prin­ci­ple but it would not hap­pen un­til the milk pric­ing sys­tem is changed to make it vi­able for in­de­pen­dent pro­ces­sors to pur­chase milk.’’

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