SWEET NEWS: MP Kevin Hogan joined Norco director and interim CEO Greg McNamara and Norco board members to uupdate expansion plans.
SWEET NEWS: MP Kevin Hogan joined Norco director and interim CEO Greg McNamara and Norco board members to uupdate expansion plans. Jacqueline Munro

$30m Norco expansion is sweet news for ice-cream lovers

IN SWEET news for local dairy farmers and ice-cream lovers alike, work will soon commence on Norco's $30 million extension of its ice-cream facility.

Norco chairman and interim CEO Greg McNamara said the expansion was "exciting news" for the co-operative, and said the funding will upgrade the Lismore factory into a world-class facility.

"This is a game-changer for Norco," he said.

"Not only will we be able to make better ice cream, but we will be able to export much more out into other countries, leading to higher growth for the company and higher earnings for our dairy farmers."

Federal Member for Page Kevin Hogan announced the $14.9 million Federal Government's Regional Growth Fund grant in October last year, with the co-operative financing the remaining sum for the expansion.

"This expansion will help secure the jobs of 830 employees across the whole of the Norco business and ensure the sustainability of the co-operative's 200 farm members," Mr Hogan said.

The $30 million project includes the construction of a two storey building to accommodate the two spiral freezer tunnels, the installation of a fully automated robotic palletising system, ice cream manufacturing equipment and raw product / recovery vats.

"This is great news for Norco employees, those looking for work and our local dairy industry," Mr Hogan said.

"The substantial increase in capacity and efficiency improvements will provide a solid basis on which the milk price paid to Norco's 200 member farms can improve for each farm once the plant upgrade is completed. This will make our members and the dairy industry in our region more sustainable."

Mr McNamara said there were plenty of benefits for the expansion, and said the board was excited to see what the future held for the co-operative.

The expansion project will be completed in a time frame of three years.

"Norco is excited to have been selected as a recipient of the Federal Government's funding of almost $15m which will be matched dollar for dollar by Norco," Mr McNamara said.

"We have a list of identified projects and are basically ready to start. It is our intention to complete the project works as soon as practically possible which may be as early as mid-2021."