Saputo Dairy Australia says it will close its facility in Maffra, Victoria and shut down parts of its sites in Leongatha, Victoria and the Mil-Lel plant in South Australia.

Up to 75 people will be affected, with the changes to happen in the first three months of 2023.

Saputo president and CEO (International and Europe) Leanne Cutts said the cuts were to secure long-term success in Australia by increasing efficiency and productivity.

“These strategic steps taken to further streamline our network aim to leverage SDA’s broader manufacturing network capabilities while creating synergies to maximise the return on every litre of milk,” Cutts said.

In September, global Saputo Inc. CEO Lino Saputo warned the company would be looking to rationalise its Australian dairy factories following the model it had used in Canada and the US. He said that by the end of FY25, there would be fewer plants in the Australian and US networks with some "tweaking" still to be carried out in Canada and the UK.

The cuts come as part of its four-year Global Strategic Plan, with five pillars targeting high single-digit growth to reach Can$2.125 billion by the end of FY25.

The Maffra plant closure was part of the “Optimize and Enhance Operations” pillar of the strategic plan.

SDA has plants in Kiewa, Cobram, Leongatha, Maffra, Allansford, and Laverton in Victoria, Mil-Lel in South Australia, and Burnie, Tasmania.

In June, the company closed the sliced cheese production component of its Cobram factory, with 18 redundancies.

SDA said it would streamline processes at the other two plants, shutting down the bulk powders production area at Leongatha and closing its cheese packaging area at Mil-Lel, South Australia.

“Many of the impacted production and packaging functions at these three facilities will be absorbed or integrated into the Company’s other facilities, increasing capacity utilisation and reducing costs,” the company said.

It said there would be minimal impact on products and no changes to its agreements with dairy farmers.

Saputo is the largest dairy processor in Australia. Its brands are Cracker Barrel, Devondale, Great Ocean Road, King Island Dairy, Liddells, Mersey Valley, Mil Lel, South Cape, Sungold, Tasmanian Heritage and Warrnambool Heritage Cheddars.

Employees affected by the closure will be redeployed, retrained, or offered severance and outplacement support.




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