Timboon Cheese Closes it's doors - Big company stresses another farming community

Date: 25-Feb-2009 News Blog

Victoria's farming communities have copped a pounding over the last few years. In particular this last month with extreme heat, worsening drought and the terrible bush fires.

The survival of the small communties of country Victoria rely on the existence of industries close by, whatever size. I'm disturbed by the news of National foods closing down the small cheese factory at Timboon in western Victoria.

THE home-grown cheese factory which helped put Timboon on the map will shut its doors within three weeks, leaving 20 local people out of work.


Timboon Farmhouse Cheese, whose organic brie, fetta and blue cheeses have lured tourists from near and far, will close on March 13, its parent company National Foods announced yesterday.

"National Foods has cited reduced demand for organic cheese as the reason for the decision to close the business that has been operating for almost 30 years.


Camperdown single mother and employee of three years Jo Coverdale, 35, said the workers were angry when told the news at a meeting yesterday.


"They're offering to do resumes for us and move us on to other companies, but we don't want to go," an emotional Ms Coverdale said. "We want to keep the Timboon Farmhouse. It's what makes the town, it's what brings the tourists." The business' origins date back to 1984 when local organic farmer Hermann Schulz travelled to Germany and discovered specialty cheeses not yet being made in Australia.


In recent years the business, which remains manually operated, was capable of producing up to 500 tonnes of cheese a year.


But as of Monday, production had been wound down to just one day a week.


National Foods manufacturing operations group executive Arthur Murphy said any decision that resulted in job losses was never taken lightly.


"But the closure we're announcing today will help ensure National Foods remains a strong and viable business, especially in the current economic and competitive environment," he said yesterday.


As part of the changes, the factory's shop-front, which attracted up to 300 people a day during school holidays, will also be closed.


The announcement comes after the Japanese-owned National Foods finalised a $910-million acquisition of Dairy Farmers in November, making it Australia's largest domestic dairy player in revenue terms."

Kirkfood started around the same time as Herman Schulz started the Demeter, bio dynamic Cheese factory at Timboon. In fact, in the early days of kirkfood, Timboon products made up a strong component of our product offering.

Timboon got swallowed up in the juggernaut of brand take overs instigated by The island Cheese company - now National Foods, years ago. Unfortunately, back then, kirkfood wasn't in the plans for marketing and distribution by the new management and we sought to go our separate ways.

My symapthies go out to the people of the proud and passionate Timboon community on losing their unique piece of Australia's dairy history.



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