The first block of cheddar cheese has rolled off the line at Fonterra’s brand new $140million Stanhope cheese plant, marking the return of cheddar to the site for the first time since a catastrophic fire destroyed the old cheese plant in December 2014.
Production is ramping up at the multi-million-dollar plant, which will send Stanhope cheese to the world, producing a range of cheeses for the domestic and global markets.
Cheese operator Jane Pekin said the Stanhope cheese production team was thrilled to be making cheese again.
‘‘It’s been two-and-a-half years since the last block of Stanhope cheddar rolled off the production line, and it’s fantastic to see it coming down the line again,’’ she said.
Site manager Jason Wright said the first block of cheddar was a major step towards full production, and was an exciting moment for the team.
‘‘An enormous amount of work has gone into making this block of cheddar, and I’m so proud of the team — everyone involved in the rebuild and expansion has done an exceptional job.
‘‘Testing will continue over the next eight to 10 weeks with production of small batches of cheese and whey, examining product quality and functionality of the equipment in the new cheese and whey plant, as well as complete training of all team members.’’
In the coming weeks, more parts of the new plant will begin operation, with mozzarella production due to get under way ahead of the plant’s official opening in mid-August.
Fonterra Australia said the Stanhope community mural, which will appear at the entrance of the Stanhope cheese factory, is in the final stages of installation with a date for a community unveiling to be set in the coming weeks.