Dairy group confident of licence approval

FLOURISHING BUSINESS: Blue Lake Dairy Group's Tammy Markey and debagging operator Jeff Heness quality check the plant's infant milk formula ahead of domestic delivery.
FLOURISHING BUSINESS: Blue Lake Dairy Group’s Tammy Markey and debagging operator Jeff Heness quality check the plant’s infant milk formula ahead of domestic delivery.

UP to 10 local jobs are expected to become available at the multi-million dollar Blue Lake Dairy Group in coming months if a lucrative Chinese export licence is granted to the Tantanoola facility.

The Chinese-owned milk processing plant will seek to increase production if granted an infant formula export licence by the Chinese Government.

Only eight Australian companies producing infant formula have been granted export licences by the Certification Accreditation Administration of the People’s Republic of China (CNCA), a regulatory body which supervises the importation of food products.

Blue Lake Dairy Group assistant operations manager Sarah Barnett said a CNCA audit of the manufacturing facility had been completed earlier this year.

“It is very difficult for any Australian enterprise to get the CNCA infant formula infant licence, but we are feeling confident,” she said.

“We’re expecting to find out if we have been given the licence any day now.

“We already have two major customers in China interested in infant formula and we expect to be pumping through the product once we get our licence.

“While we have been waiting for this, we have been doing exercise runs so our workers can keep their skills updated and develop our food safety system in preparation for more orders.”

Ms Barnett said the plant, which is capable of producing 55 cans per minute, had recently completed its first domestic customer order.

The $15m milk processing plant began operations earlier this year and is the first development in a two-phase investment plan.

Stage one will enable the production of 20,000 tonnes of infant and adult formula using powdered milk.

Ms Barnett said the group was seeking to increase the number of employees from 20 to more than 30 ahead of CNCA approval.

“We would like to recruit more staff in a short period to get ready for processing,” she said.

“If we get a licence we would need to put double shifts in place so we would need at least five to seven machine operators.

“We also would require an account officer, a quality control officer and a machine maintenance engineer.

“Once our licence comes through, then we will gradually grow into full capability.

“Our staff recruitment will be based on orders and if orders dramatically increased, we would require more staff.”

Stage two is expected to involve a new $50m factory to convert milk into powder and create an additional 90 jobs.

Ms Barnett said the company would develop a plan for the second stage of the project following Chinese authority export approval, adding potential international consumers had been identified in neighbouring Asian countries.

“We recently participated in an Austrade convention and visited Vietnam, Singapore and Malaysia to develop the overseas market,” she said.

“On the trip, we found each country has a potential customer base for us.

“We found the Vietnam market has a very strong demand, which is a positive.”