Victorian dairy co-operative Murray Goulburn has unveiled plans for a major A$135m (US$99.3m) upgrade of its processing plant at Leongatha in South Gippsland, reports the Age newspaper.

The proposed upgrade is part of a 10-year plan to revitalise the 100-year-old plant and ensure Murray Goulburn Co-operative remains a competitive force in the international market, the paper said. The co-operative’s board will consider the plans in March.

Murray Goulburn’s chief executive, Stephen O’Rourke, said the proposal included the installation of innovative technology, and an upgrade of equipment and processing systems. These would create manufacturing efficiencies and boost product innovation, ensuring the plant remained competitive in export markets, he said.

The minister for state and regional development, John Brumby, said the project was expected to generate more than 200 direct and indirect jobs, providing a $320m boost to the region and $175m in additional exports.

If approved, it would be the largest private investment in South Gippsland, he said.

The Victorian minister for agriculture, Bob Cameron, said the project would ensure Leongatha and South Gippsland remained at the centre of Murray Goulburn’s innovative protein production and dairy biotechnology program.

Murray Goulburn is a co-operative of more than 3000 dairy farmers and is Australia’s largest exporter of processed foods. It produces more than 40 per cent of all of Australia’s manufactured dairy exports, moving about 350,000 tonnes of dairy products through the Port of Melbourne each year to established markets in the Asia Pacific region, and to new markets in the United States and Europe.