Fonterra’s Kaikoura site will be permanently shut down, with its final day of operation being expected in mid to late April. In announcing the move, the dairy co-op’s director Mark Leslie said that the decision was based on staff consultation and motivated by efficiency reasons.

“While it is difficult for the people involved, we have a responsibility to our farmer shareholders and unit holders, and our customers to be as efficient as possible across our business, especially given the low milk price,” said Leslie. “Based on consultation, around half the site have indicated their interest in redeployment elsewhere in the Co-operative, and we are confident we will be able to meet their wishes. While we obviously would prefer to retain all of our staff, for those who are interested in moving on we will be providing assistance in their search for new roles outside of the business.”

As for the future, Kaikoura’s cheese volumes will be split between other cheese plants, such as Lichfield, Clandeboye, Stirling and Whareroa, where cheese production is up 16 percent more cost effective than at Kaikoura.