PRODUCTION at a new local business has started, with Mortlake Organic Dairy converting the old Clarkes Pies Factory into an artisan organic cheese and dairy factory.
A joint venture between L’Artisan Cheese and Symons Organic Dairy, Mortlake Organic Dairy started producing a range of artisan and organic cheeses in mid June after business partners Matthieu Megard and Bruce Symons relocated their companies to Mortlake.
Mr Megard owns L’Artisan Cheese, which was established in Timboon, while Mr Symons relaunched his family’s business, Symons Organic Dairy, in 2017 after it was originally established in 1919.
The pair both relocated to the township from Geelong to start the venture after purchasing the site they said suited their cheese making needs in November last year.
Mr Mathieu said the pair was “pretty happy” to finally start production and planned to make Mortlake their long time home after investing the first half of 2020 updating and fitting out the site.
The company has also secured a milk supply from two farms within an hour of Mortlake.
“We’re pretty happy now that we’re operating and producing cheese,” Mr Matthieu said.
“I’m pretty excited to be here. It’s important to be closer to the milk than where the cheese is actually consumed.
“You need about 10 litres of milk per one kilogram of cheese so you’re better off transporting the cheese than the milk.
“So it’s actually good to be closer to the milk and in terms of workforce and labour and the kind of support you have in a small town like this it’s really good. It’s something you wouldn’t find in Geelong or Melbourne.”
Mr Symons said the small town feel of Mortlake was a nice change from their previous city locations.
“It’s a good central location close to the milk. There’s also a lot of keen people that we’ve picked up (for employment) so far,” he said.
“Matt’s worked at a few places as have I but coming to a town like Mortlake with a loyal and motivated workforce, we reckon that’s more evident here than perhaps Geelong and other places.
“If we’re in Laverton or Tullamarine we’re one of 20 dairy companies but here there is an appreciation and here people know dairy.
“Everywhere we go, whether it’s the IGA or the butcher, Clarke’s Pies or Macs Hotel, everyone is asking about us or is interested.”
The factory is set to produce a minimum of 100 tonnes of cheese per year, which the pair said was a “significant” amount for its size.
A workforce of 15 mostly local workers are already employed in packaging and cheese making teams, with funding from Regional Development Victoria helping the company with its job creation.
The number of employees is likely to increase by the start of 2021, while the site offers the prospect of expansion for the pair if they wish to do so.
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