Cheese goes soft with $150,000

MAFFRA Cheese will expand into the national soft cheese market.

Assisted by a state government contribution of $150,000 from the Regional Growth Fund, the expansion into the national soft cheese market is expected to create 15 new jobs and secure another 30 at Maffra Cheese, with an estimated $750,000 in wages expected to be injected into the Maffra region each year.

Having manufactured cheese for about 30 years, Maffra Cheese is one of the few remaining Australian-owned pioneering specialty cheese makers.

Gippsland East MLA Tim Bull said Maffra Cheese would contribute more than $250,000 out of its own pocket to help establish a soft cheese plant.

He said the company’s growing reputation as one of Victoria’s best cheese producers had resulted in a significant increase in demand for its products.

“It is mostly company input for a project worth more than $400,000,” Mr Bull said.

“To be putting their own on the line, confidence in themselves, their area and their markets, they are to be applauded.

“This is an expansion of a great local company doing a good job boosting the local economy.

“There are 45 to 50 jobs at this company, and when you’re talking local economy, that is a huge boost in the wages going back into Gippsland East (electorate).”

The project will involve expansion of existing facilities and investment in new specialised manufacturing plant and equipment.

It will also include upgrading on-site infrastructure, additional cheese maturing space, and the reconfiguring of existing facilities to provide additional cheese cutting and packaging space.

Maffra Cheese Company’s master cheese maker Ferial Zekiman said the state government support would allow Maffra Cheese to expand into new markets and increase employment opportunities for local people.

“This investment will help Maffra Cheese boost sales of its award-winning cheese, enabling even more people to experience this wonderful Gippsland product, both locally and internationally,” she said.

Eastern Victorian MLC Danny O’Brien said it would also enable the company to grow exports.

“Having more local produce on more supermarkets shelves not only enhances the reputation of Maffra Farm House Cheese, it further enhances the reputation of Gippsland as a leading food producing region,” he said.