Media Release - Australia’s oldest dairy co-operative increases value by $21.3m for its farmers

Australia’s oldest dairy co-operative has defied the economic uncertainty of COVID-19 to deliver a record milk price to its farmers and achieve an operating profit four and a half times higher than last year.

Norco Co-operative Limited, which was founded in Byron Bay in June 1895, has posted an operating profit of $5.4 million for FY19-20, up from $1.2 million the previous financial year.

The powerhouse performance is a welcomed result for the co-operative’s 302 active members who also benefited from a rise in milk payments during FY19-20, with each farmer member sharing in $17.1 million of much needed farm gate milk price increases compared to the previous financial year as they continue to recover from the crippling effects of drought and high costs of production .

The combined value of higher milk price payments and improved returns represents a $21.3 million improvement in value for Norco farmers throughout the year, the 125th.

Recently appointed Norco Chairman Michael Jeffery said the strong results were a credit to the co-operative’s management team and its hard-working farmer members who operate 203 dairy farms across New South Wales and Queensland.

“Like many industries, the past year has posed immense challenges for the dairy community but I am pleased to say that we have been able to support our farmers with record payments,” said Mr Jeffery, who replaced Greg McNamara as co-operative chairman in June of this year.

“Our management team, led by Chief Executive Michael Hampson, has rolled out a series of innovations that have changed how we operate as a business and the significant benefits of those changes are now flowing to our farmers.

“As a 100 per cent farmer-owned co-operative, these strong results help create a more sustainable future for our farmer members as it provides them confidence to invest in their  farms as they continue the long recovery from the crippling drought conditions and ultimately provide Australians with more of the fresh dairy products they have loved for 125 years.

“We couldn’t have achieved this result without our loyal customers and we are grateful to them for continuing to show their support to our farmer members by their considered purchasing decisions to support the 100% farmer owned Norco brand.”

FY19-20 saw Norco’s turnover reach more than $680 million and annual milk intake hit 214 million litres.

Norco Chief Executive Michael Hampson said his management team was focused on continuing to post results that would allow its farmer members to reinvest in their own businesses.

“Every decision we make is for the benefit and sustainability of our farmer members, the community and our co-operative,” Mr Hampson said.

“Between drought, bushfires and a global pandemic, the past year has been without precedent, however by delivering change and empowering our people, we have been able to record a large increase in value for our farmers and lay the foundation for further success.

“Norco is ultimately here for our farmer members, our team members and customers and we thank all of them for the contribution they have made to this excellent result.”

Mr Hampson said an increase in consumer demand would also allow Norco to further expand product lines.

“With Australians increasingly community focused when it comes to their purchasing habits, we have conducted extensive research to identify new products for them to enjoy and look forward to meeting their demands soon,” he said. 

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