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WA dairy industry surprised by award winning Margaret River Dairy Company’s planned closure

Headshot of Aidan Smith
Aidan SmithCountryman
Margaret River Dairy Company Whicher Triple Cream on display.
Camera IconMargaret River Dairy Company Whicher Triple Cream on display. Credit: supplied/supplied

WA’s dairy industry has been left stunned by news the Chinese-owned Margaret River Dairy Company will shut up shop after failing to secure a buyer, with many saying they “didn’t know” the facility was for sale.

Margaret River Dairy Company general manager Matt Boys emailed customers this month to say its owner, Manassen Foods, had been unable to secure a buyer after 12 months and would cease operations on September 1.

WAFarmers Dairy Section president Ian Noakes said the Bussell Highway business at Metricup was a major tourist attraction in the region but was not understood to be a major milk buyer.

Margaret River Dairy Company Original Club Chedder cheese on display.
Camera IconMargaret River Dairy Company Original Club Chedder cheese on display. Credit: supplied/supplied

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Mr Noakes, who farms south of Margaret River at Forest Grove, was surprised to learn the business had been on the market.

He said many in the State’s dairy industry did not know it was for sale and had not seen it advertised.

Forest Grove dairy farmer Ian Noakes. Taelor Pelusey
Camera IconForest Grove dairy farmer Ian Noakes. Taelor Pelusey Credit: Taelor Pelusey

“It’s disappointing to hear that it is closing its doors, I would have thought it would be a great business, with a tourism focus,” he said.

“It could be a good business for local producers to buy and supply to.”

Mr Noakes said while it was understood the company was not a large-scale buyer, any exit in the market gave farmers “one less option to supply to”.

Western Dairy chair Robin Lammie said was also not aware the business had been for sale, saying he was “surprised” and “saddened in a way” to hear it would close its doors

Mr Lammie said it was “a great facility”, located on the Bussell Highway, which was a main tourist route where a business could stand out.

Countryman understands the Margaret River Dairy Company had previously sourced its milk from Brownes but that changed in recent years, and it employed up to 40 people during its peak production times.

The company advertised for production staff to fill a variety of roles in January 2023, following a televised ‘Our State in a Plate’ feature by Cassandra Charlick in May 2022.

Margaret River Dairy Co was recognised by the Dairy Industry Association of Australia and Perth Food Awards in 2021 and 2022 with gold and silver awards for its quality products which had been available in Woolworths and Coles stores across the country.

Margaret River Dairy Company Timeline

1966: A group of Italian artisan cheesemakers begin selling their farmhouse and ricotta cheeses in a small shop in suburban Perth, mainly for the Italian community.

1990: Fonti Farm Cheese moves to just north of Cowaramup to be closer to the rich soils and rolling green pastures loved by dairy cattle.

1994: Fonti Farm acquires the nearby boutique factory Margaret River Cheese Company, merging operations.

2000: Manassen Foods Australia Pty Ltd buys the Margaret River Cheese Company/Fonti Farm operation, forming the Margaret River Dairy Company.

2011: Manassen Foods Group is acquired by one of China’s biggest food companies, Bright Foods Group Holdings Pty Ltd.

2012: Main factory burns to the ground in an electrical fire; 40 jobs are lost.

2014: Rebuilt factory and retail outlets back in operation.

2021: Margaret River Dairy Company re-launches its artisan Wax Cheddar range to celebrate 30th anniversary

2021: Margaret River Dairy Company put up for sale

2023: Manassen announces Margaret River Dairy Company will close

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