Kaimai Cheese facing downsize
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.’’