New operators on board to meet rising global demand for cream cheese

With our global cream cheese sales up 24% on last year and demand still increasing, Fonterra’s Darfield site has welcomed 16 new employees who will operate the first of its two new cream cheese plants.

The site is bringing on employees as part of a capability and development programme that will build the team at Darfield to ensure good performance when the new plant goes into operation in August.

The employees have been brought on early to receive extensive training due to the new plant incorporating one of the most advanced lines in the world.

Director of Global Foodservice, Grant Watson says that Fonterra-first technology will allow for the firmness and consistency of the cream cheese they produce to be dialed up or down to meet both the needs of Chefs and deliver against consumer preferences.

“This will mean that the Co-operative is well placed to meet consumer demand, particularly in Asia where cream cheese is undergoing a surge in popularity,” says Mr Watson.

“Dairy beverages such as tea macchiato – which mixes tea with cream and cream cheese – demonstrate the remarkable versatility of dairy in markets like China.”

Acting Site Operations Manager, Shane Taylor says that the first Darfield plant is on track to be completed in the next six months with the second to follow within two-to-three years.

“When both lines are in place, we will be able to produce up to 48,000MT of cream cheese each year, making our site one of the largest producers of cream cheese in New Zealand,” says Mr Taylor.

“We are building and training our teams who will prepare the first plant for commissioning and transition to normal operations.  These teams will be instrumental in setting the plant up for the future”.

One of our new employees, John Cordon, was running a printing press in Christchurch prior to joining.

“There is a lot of cross-over on the manufacturing and machine operating side of things.”

“However the new job is head and shoulders more high tech.  The machinery is world leading spanking new machinery and the opportunity to work in a brand new plant is exciting.”

“There is so much learning going on.  Nine of us have been working in the dairy industry; the rest are new to the industry, and that includes me.  We are going to spend a day on a dairy farm, and go out with a milk tanker.”

“We have a little village next to the plant, so we see the construction as it goes on day by day, it makes us feel involved.”

Selwyn District Mayor, Sam Broughton says that people are optimistic about the growing population of the district.

“The Darfield site has continued to provide employment throughout the construction phase, and now there are these long-term jobs at the plant.”

“It’s great that there are training opportunities for people in new areas and career paths. It enables them to bring up their families here amongst the fresh air and lakes, and enjoy the lifestyle that Selwyn has to offer.”

Business Relationship Manager, Justin Tipa gave a Mihi Whakatau to welcome the new starters to the site, followed by a blessing of the capability and development programme.