Our History

Norco has a history of being part of its communities and lives up to it's role as a large entity that is engaged with community members and the dairy industry. The support for its products, by locals and members, reflects the ideals and value people place on Norco. It is a mutual connection where people continue to be involved commercially and socially with the business.

For the past 127 years, Norco’s members have collectively come together for the common purpose of having their milk produce marketed. This iconic farmer owned dairy co-operative has grown and reinvented itself many times over its long history, making it a potent example of truly resilient and sustainable business.


Jump to 1900-1924
  • 5 June 1895

    The North Coast Fresh Food & Cold Storage Co-operative Company Ltd (NORCO) began operations at Byron Bay (NSW).

  • 30 April 1896

    Bacon curing operations began at Byron Bay and the first bacon was sent to Sydney on the 21 September 1896.

  • 25 November 1897

    The Company opened first depot at Murwillumbah and processed cream into butter.

  • 1898

    Depot opened at Casino beside the Richmond River as sea going ships could navigate inland on the river way.


Jump to 1925-1949
  • 2 December 1902

    The Norco Coast Fresh Food and Cold Storage Co-operative opened its first branch factory at Lismore.

  • 1904

    The original company was voluntarily liquidated and sold to a new company called the North Coast Co-operative Limited.

  • 1905

    North Coast Co-operative now producing one fifth of State's butter.

  • 2 May 1906

    Second branch factory opened at Murwillumbah. Lismore factory now largest butter producer in the State.

  • 14 May 1921

    TSS Wollongbar | was wrecked at Byron Bay. Steam ships were used to transport butter to Sydney and were owned by the Northern Coast Steam Navigation Company.

  • 19 July 1923

    The Sydney selling Floor was opened at at 379 Sussex Street so the Co-operative could handle the sale of its own produce.


Jump to 1950-1974
  • 15 December 1925

    North Coast Co-operative Company officially alter it's name to Norco Co-operative Limited.

  • 4 May 1929

    Clifford House was opened on the corner of Sussex and Bathurst Streets Sydney. It was named in honor of first full time Secretary, later General Manager, William Clifford who died while it was being constructed.

  • 1932

    New factory opened in Murwillumbah and the old factory was leased to the Banana Growers Federation
    Record output of butter 18,353 tons of butter manufactured.
    At its peak Norco operated twenty factories - Byron Bay, Murwillumbah, Lismore, Kyogle, Tweed Heads, Tyalgum, Uki, Binna Burra, Ballina, Corndale, Bonalbo, Ettrick, Mt Lindesay, Alstonville, Coraki, Nimbin, Dunoon, The Channon, Cawongla and Wiangaree.

  • 1943

    Opening of Lismore store.

  • 1944

    Gristing Mill opened in Lismore

  • 1949

    Production of milk powder begins.


Jump to 1975-1999
  • 14 July 1950

    Commencement of ice cream manufacture at Lismore.

  • 1 December 1950

    Bottled milk production begins at Murwillumbah.

  • 1956

    New premises opened in North Sydney. Opening of Lismore Cheese factory.

  • 1 December 1958

    Takeover of Peters Milk/Foley Brothers. This reduced competition and provided a means of rationalisation in the industry. Cheese making was concentrated in Lismore.

  • 27 August 1962

    A new era begins, transfer of Head Office from Byron Bay to Lismore.

  • September 1962

    Operations and deliveries of ice cream and frozen foods, such as vegetables, poultry and fish products, commence in Brisbane and Rocklea. Norco ice cream marketed in Queensland.

  • 1966

    Installation of continuous butter-making machine at Lismore maintained production of a high quality product.

  • 1968

    Norco gained all top awards for canned ham at the Royal Agricultural Society Show in Sydney.

  • 1 July 1969

    First bulk milk collection in Murwillumbah and Lismore started in November of this year.

  • February 1970

    First butter manufacturer to promote "spreadibility" in marketing. Called Jersey Gold it was made by a cream treatment process in the Lismore factory.

  • June 1970

    Norco joined forces with Producers Distributing Co-operation Ltd. These amalgamations spread the company's area of influence from Gosford to the Queensland boarder and west to Moree which consolidated and improved confidence and rationalisation of the industry.

  • 1974

    Casino Dairy Co-op. merges with Norco.


Jump to 2000 - Present
  • 1976

    Dairy Farmers Action Group fights Base Milk Quality monopoly of milk marketing. Norco wins Milk War - a new deal for North Coast dairy farmers and access to the whole of the states milk markets.

  • 1 April 1981

    Norco purchased the Central Dairy Co-operative Society Limited which included the Ralegh manufacturing factory and Rural Store. Inverell Dairies Pty Ltd was also taken over by Norco on this day and the bulk milk produced in the Inverell district was then transported to Raleigh.

  • 1984

    Norco acquired agricultural business of PDS which had interests in Southern Queensland, Northern New South Wales and Tablelands.

  • 1986

    Norco sales exceed $100 million.

  • 1987

    Joint venture in ice cream manufacture between Norco and the large American Company, Baskin Robbins commences.

  • 1989

    The Logan and Albert Dairying Co-operative, situated at Beaudesert in Queensland, was purchased by Norco. The factory's brick building which was built in 1931 was then used for many years by the Beaudesert Rural Store.

  • 1991

    Grafton - Ulmarra Co-operative Dairy Company Limited was purchased by Norco Co-op in this year. The Ulmarra Butter factory was originally opened in 1892 and then was rebuilt in 1923 under the name of Pioneer Dairy Company Butter Factory. It later became known as the Grafton - Ulmarra Co-operative Dairy company Limited before being taken over by Norco Co-op.

  • 1995

    Norco celebrates 100th Birthday - Centenary History book, Centenary Play, Parade at Lismore Showground attracts largest ever crowd. Golden Oldies dinners held in several places.

  • 1998

    Norco sales exceed $200 million.

2000 - Present

  • June 2000

    Norco Sells the Foodservice Distribution Business to PFD Foodservices. Norco opens the Windmill Grove site in Lismore. The site houses the Lismore Rural store, Norco Mitre10 Handy store and several other speciality shops.

  • July 2000

    Norco closes down Cheese Factory in Lismore.

  • 2001

    Australian farm gate milk price deregulated.
    Norco launches Cape Byron ice cream range.

  • 2001 - 2002

    $7.03 million dollar profit recorded.

  • 2003

    Lismore Ice Cream Factory Site is updated to meet Industry QA Standards.
    Norco launches Light Prestige Ice Cream. The first Australian Ice Cream to be included in the Glycemic Index Symbol Program.
    Norco Rural Stores Group purchase BGF stores at Coffs Harbour, Macksville & BGF Carton Services at Woolgoolga.
    Norco Rural Stores Group purchase Goldmix Stockfeed Pty located in the Burnett Ranges of Queensland.

  • 2005

    The Corporate Head Office moves from Foleys Road to 'Windmill Grove' 107 Wilson Street in South Lismore.
    Norco completes 110 years in business by holding a public ceremony in honour of the relocation of the Obelisk of the late Andrew Carson Alcorn, the 'Father of the Creamery' which is now situated in a prominent location within the Riverside Park in Lismore.

  • 2006

    Norco purchases Parmalat's 50% share of the Norco Pauls Joint Venture.
    Norco opens a new Rural store in Coffs Harbour NSW

  • 2007

    Norco forms a business relationship with Fonterra to sell and distribute milk products
    Norco purchases $23m turnover Retail site at Toowoomba QLD
    Norco purchases Meat-E-Vite business in Lennox Head NSW.
    Norco opens a new Rural store in Bundaberg QLD

  • 2008

    Old coal fired boiler system removed from Lismore Ice Cream factory and a gas fired hot water system installed to reduce pollution and increase efficiency.

    Norco wins the Queensland and New South Wales awards in the Bi-annual Asia Pacific Stock Feed Competition which was held by the Stock Feed Manufacturers Association as a national competition.

  • 2010

    Norco Ice Cream Business Unit wins the Coles House Brand Supplier of the Year Award.

  • June 2010

    Norco celebrates 115 years in business.

  • November 2012

    Norco purchase the Sales, Marketing and Distribution back from Fonterra.

  • January 2013

    Norco opens a Rural Store in Taree NSW.

  • October 2013

    Norco opens a Rural Store in Gloucester NSW.

  • June 2014

    Norco opens a Rural Store in Heatherbrae NSW.

  • July 2014

    Norco opens a Rural Store in Murgon QLD.

  • April 2014

    Joined Media Release – Norco, dairy Connect & PGS open a FreshMilk “pipeline” into China

  • 1 November 2014

    Norco opens a Rural Store in Wamuran QLD.

  • June 2014

    The NSW Business Chamber awarded Norco their "Excellence in Innovation" Award for 2014 for the Northern Rivers Region, and they will now go on to represent the region in the upcoming NSW Business Chamber State Awards in November.

  • December 2014

    Joint Media Release – Coles & Norco - Gold Coast business Norco has boosted its sales of branded milk by more than 25 per cent in less than six months at Coles as Queenslanders race to embrace local brands.

    Coles Managing Director John Durkan will visited the Labrador factory for the first time to celebrate the success of its new and unprecedented five-year partnership with Norco.

    The visit came as Norco that week produced its 28th million litre of private label milk for Coles in less than six months.

  • 5 June 2015

    Norco celebrates 120 years in business.

  • February 2016

    NORCO REAL ICED CHOCOLATE was crowned Australia’s Champion Flavoured Dairy Beverage in the Australian Grand Dairy Awards

  • July 2017

    Norco and PURA have shared top spot in Canstar Blue’s 2017 fresh milk customer ratings, both earning five star reviews on packaging, taste and overall satisfaction. They also rated four stars in terms of freshness and value for money.

    Canstar Blue’s annual fresh milk review has seen 13 brands rated on taste, freshness, packaging design, value for money and overall satisfaction.

  • January 2018

    Norco's Rural Agri division turns 75

  • February 2018

    Norco Rural opens it's doors in Gympie Qld.

  • March 2018

    Norco Rural opens it's doors in Wauchope NSW.

  • June 2018

    Norco’s  Member Suppliers & Shareholders as well as staff are thrilled with the sweep of gold medals won at the 2018 DIAA Australian Dairy Product Competition..

    September 2018

    Norco has won the Excellence in Export Award at the Sunny Business Awards in Coffs Harbour

    September 2018

    Norco announces immediate 5cents a litre Milk Price increase to co-operative members due to the severe drought coupled with escalating input costs on farm.

  • October 2018

    Norco Co-operative Limited is the successful recipient of funding under the Regional Growth Fund (RGF), an initiative of the Australian Government’s Department of Infrastructure, Regional Development and Cities.

  • January 2019

    Coles announces that it has begun distributing $3,974,292.30 collected by their Coles Dairy Drought Relief Fund. This includes more than 190 Norco Member milk suppliers, who will receive payments from the fund

  • March 2019

    Norco increases milk price to member suppliers by 6.5 cents per litre

  • October 2019

    Norco announces drought support premium payment to member milk suppliers