Murray Goulburn opens $80 million Melbourne chilled milk plant

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 7th July 2014
Murray Goulburn opens $80 million Melbourne chilled milk plant
Murray Goulburn opens $80 million Melbourne chilled milk plant

Australia’s largest dairy co-operative Murray Goulburn Co-operative Co. Limited’s (Murray Goulburn) has opened an $80 million milk processing plant in Melbourne.

The Laverton North facility was opened on Thursday 3 July 2014 by Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott, and Victorian State Premier Dr Denis Napthine. The plant will be the new home of Murray Goulburn’s Devondale brand daily pasteurised milk, and the processing base for the ground-breaking ten-year agreement to supply more than 400 Coles stores with chilled milk for the retailer’s private labels.

Devondale Murray Goulburn’s Managing Director, Gary Helou said the plant was the “first of its kind in the country and the most important dairy asset built in Australia in more than 15 years”.

“The new site utilises world-leading technology and quality standards that will assist in positioning Devondale Murray Goulburn as the nation’s most efficient producer of daily pasteurised milk – a market which currently utilises approximately 20 per cent of total Australian milk production,” Mr Helou said.

“Our entry into daily pasteurised liquid milk is a natural strategic step for the Co-operative, supported by a ground-breaking partnership with Coles that will deliver a sustainable increase in the farmgate milk price of Australian dairy farmers,” Mr Helou said.

Murray Goulburn said a total of 50 skilled jobs have been created at the Melbourne site and a further 500 jobs were generated during construction and commissioning of the facility. The Company said the construction of the Laverton North facility along with the sister facility currently underway in Erskine Park Sydney, represented the largest single investment in dairy processing technology since the dairy industry was deregulated in 2000.

“The security of having a long-term contract with Coles in Victoria and New South Wales formed the strong platform for Devondale to invest in state-of-the-art facilities in the daily pasteurised milk sector,” Mr Helou said.

Coles Managing Director John Durkan said Devondale Murray Goulburn would supply 1.3 million litres of milk each week in Victoria for Coles brand milk and Coles would also sell Devondale daily pasteurised milk in Victorian and NSW supermarkets for the first time.

“Our contract with Devondale Murray Goulburn is unprecedented and is a great outcome for both dairy farmers and our customers,” Mr Durkan said. “Never before has Coles signed a milk contract of this length and volume and we are proud to partner with Australia’s largest dairy company and a farmer-owned co-operative,” he said.

Murray Goulburn said the Laverton North facility was part of a broader $500 million investment strategy by the Company over the next three to five years to rejuvenate its manufacturing and supply chain infrastructure in the key product areas of nutritional powders, cheese and liquid milk.

Milk supply agreement

In April 2013 Devondale Murray Goulburn announced that it had entered into a ten-year agreement to supply Coles’ private label 2-litre and 3-litre fresh milk. As part of the agreement, approximately 200 million litres of milk will be supplied to Coles’ private label annually.

Murray Goulburn said milk supplied for each state will be regionally sourced. In Victoria, milk for the new site will be supplied by Devondale Murray Goulburn’s existing supplier base from the key regions of Victoria.

A sister processing facility in Erskine Park, New South Wales is currently being built to service the New South Wales market.

The Plant

Murray Goulburn said the Laverton North plant was capable of processing 50,000 litres of milk per hour and commercially producing 150 million litres per year. The Company said this could be expanded to increase processing capacity to 350 million litres if required or as Murray Goulburn grows its customer base.

Murray Goulburn said it was also the first time a Devondale Murray Goulburn facility has had fully integrated use of nine Automated Guided Vehicles (AGVs) (a mobile robot that follows markers or wires in the floor, or uses vision, magnets, or lasers for navigation). While most plants have some degree of automation, Murray Goulburn said the Laverton North plant featured “true end-to-end automation”. For example, AGVs are used inbound for raw material handling and outbound for truck loading.

The Company said the plant also has an automated line control, packaging, wet processes, energy services, boilers, refrigeration and trade waste and a computerised warehouse management system.