Fonterra, the New Zealand dairy group, is to close its Cororooke manufacturing site in Victoria putting around 130 jobs at risk.

The announcement follows a review of the group’s manufacturing operations in southwest Victoria, Fonterra said, and will now involve the start of a three-year programme of investment and upgrades as its other two sites in this region.

“To maintain our leading market positions, compete effectively on the world stage and continue to deliver a strong milk price to our farmers, we must ensure our manufacturing sites are efficient and capable of handling the growth we anticipate in the future,” said Simon Bromell, managing director of Fonterra Ingredients Australia.

“The Cororooke plant is over 100 years old and needs major upgrades to meet changing environmental and production standards. While our first preference is always to upgrade and maintain our sites, the challenges we face and the barriers to modernising this particular plant mean the most responsible thing to do is close it,” he added.

The Cororooke site manufactures soft cheeses and cream products. Production at the site will be closed down in a phased process over the next year.

Fonterra said it is working with all employees and families to support them in the closure process and will help relocate those that wish to, where possible.

“It is unlikely that we will be able to relocate all employees and there may be a number of redundancies,” Bromell said. “We are providing comprehensive outplacement and support services to all of our employees and we are also working closely with the Victorian Government to ensure everyone at Cororooke has the opportunity to retrain or build on their current skills through government training programs.”