Bega Cheese plans to close its milk manufacturing plant in Canberra and switch production to another site in Penrith, New South Wales.

The shift to the Griffith, Canberra, facility will affect 19 employees who will be able to choose between redundancy packages or redeployment to other Bega factories. Outplacement and worker assistance programmes will be made available.

The lack of dairy farms in Canberra forced the company to source milk from outside the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) and transport it to Griffith for production, often “bypassing more efficient and sustainable production sites” like Bega’s Penrith facility, the company said in a stock-exchange filing.

Bega explained that the changing nature of the dairy market within the ACT meant the Griffith facility had not been operating at full capacity for some time. Also, combined with the fact there have not been any dairy farms within the state for many years, creating challenges for the Canberra site.

“There will be no change to the brand or the milk inside the bottles across Canberra Milk or Dairy Farmers brands,” Bega noted in the filing.

“This move will allow us to maintain our high standards across product quality and customer service, utilising the benefits of a larger full-time operation specialising in the production of fresh milk,” Darryn Wallace, the executive general manager of company subsidiary Bega Dairy and Drinks, explained.

In January, Bega Cheese accepted a revised offer for its 49% interest in a plant-based dairy joint venture in Hong Kong with Vitasoy International Holdings.