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New $40 million Shepparton milk factory

A joint venture business is building a $40 million factory in Shepparton to produce UHT milk aimed at the Asian market.

GEOFF ADAMS AND CATHY WALKER August 13, 2013 3:47am

A joint venture business is building a $40million factory in Shepparton to produce UHT milk aimed at the Asian market.

It is expected to generate around 100 immediate jobs and as many as three or four times that amount in spin-offs with increased demand for milk from Goulburn Valley farmers.

Kyabram-based milk supply company ACM (Australian Consolidated Milk) and Pactum Australia are building the factory in Old Dookie Rd.

Pactum Australia is owned by the ASX-listed company Freedom Foods Group, and ACM is part of the Pactum Group.

ACM director John Hommes said the new factory was ‘‘massive’’ for his business and ‘‘good for the whole community’’.

‘‘A manufacturing plant will make our company more stable,’’ Mr Hommes said.

‘‘In full swing, when it gets going in four years’ time, it will be enormous.’’

He praised the assistance the development has been given by Greater Shepparton City Council, Goulburn Valley Water, Goulburn-Murray Water and Powercor.

‘‘We’ve kept it pretty low key,’’ Mr Hommes admitted. ‘‘But all those people have been magnificent in getting the factory established.’’

Pactum Australia is a broad-based manufacturer in Sydney, producing long-life food and beverage products. ACM was established by dairy farmers in 2008, and now has about 50 suppliers.

A spokesman for Freedom Group said demand for UHT (long-life) milk into Asia had seen Pactum decide to expand its UHT capabilities, with a new production location to be established at Shepparton.

He said this provided a unique manufacturing location, given Shepparton’s well-established food manufacturing capabilities and importantly its proximity to a high quality milk supply in northern Victoria.

Mr Hommes said ACM’s farmer suppliers were based from Kyabram to Cobram, with some in the Southern Riverina, and the new UHT facility would obviously provide opportunities for more to join in and potentially have a positive impact on milk prices.

Pactum said it would manage the Shepparton operation, which will be a 50-50 joint venture.

The facility will have an initial capacity of 100million litres, with potential to increase up to 350million litres over time. The company estimated the initial investment at $40million, including land and buildings.

Mr Hommes said UHT milk could begin to come out of the factory as early as this December.

Pactum said it had focused on Asian opportunities, noting overall demand for dairy in the region was being driven by increasing population, rising gross domestic product, higher disposable incomes and increased urbanisation.

But all the milk won’t necessarily be unpacked in Asia.

‘‘We will also be contract packers — we’ll pack for anyone,’’ Mr Hommes said.

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