BEGA Cheese no longer has a presence in Gerringong as dairy farmers choose to send their product to fresh milk processors.
Devondale-Murray Goulburn Co-operative met with farmers in Bomaderry in May to gauge interest for its new Sydney processing plant.
The higher prices on offer and the co-operative’s deal with Coles to supply its fresh milk for the next 10 years attracted all but two of Gerringong’s farms.
Among the farms to make the switch was Sea Breeze Holsteins at Gerroa, run by father and son team Frank and Paul Condon.
Paul Condon said farmers should ideally receive 60 cents a litre but Devondale-MG’s offer of around the 50 cents mark was closer than Bega’s price.
In May, Gerringong’s Dylan Bailey said Crooked River Dairy was lucky to average 40 cents a litre from Bega.
“Now, we supply the Sydney liquid milk market and we’re not relying on an export price,” Mr Condon said.
“It’s only a positive because it creates competition among the processors and it gives farmers another option.”
The fifth-generation farmer said that once the major suppliers decided to sign contracts with Devondale-MG, collecting milk from the area was no longer viable for Bega and it pulled out.
The two Gerringong farmers not joining the co-operative signed with Parmalat, which also collects milk from some Jamberoo farms.
Mr Condon said Lion was another option but it was only interested in large producers.
Sea Breeze Holsteins originally supplied to Dairy Farmers as part of the Gerringong Co-op until 1989, when it switched to Bega.
The new contracts came into force on September 1, with Parmalat processing all the milk from the area until Devondale-MG completes its Erskine Park facility next year.
It intends to process 100 million litres of milk annually from July.
Gerringong and Berry farms combined had provided Bega Cheese with 15 million litres of milk a year.
Bega Cheese executive chairman Barry Irvine said the company processed 700 million litres a year and would not be greatly affected by the loss of supply.
But he said the company valued the relationship.
He said the company had hosted a farewell in recent weeks and awarded manager Ian Godfrey with a gold watch for his years of service.
“They came and talked to us and we recognised it was a good offer,” he said.
“If some were moving, it made sense for all of them to, from a freight point of view.”