30 Sep 2015

More than 30 jobs on the line at milk company

3:36 pm on 30 September 2015

Hokitika based co-operative Westland Milk Products says 32 jobs could be lost across the company as it reviews its structure and tries to make savings.

Milk at Pak n Save Kilbirnie.

Milk at Pak n Save Kilbirnie. Photo: RNZ / Alexander Robertson

Westland chief executive Rod Quin said the review came in the wake of record low international dairy prices and tough economic on-farm conditions.

The co-operative announced the review earlier this month, but remained tight-lipped until staff had been consulted.

Mr Quin said that was now underway.

"So we announced to the staff that there is a proposal for up to 32 roles, which we will look at and are under review. The impacted and affected staff are working their way through that feedback process and in October we'll be making decisions as to which staff we can keep and which staff will exit the business.

"We've looked across the business, so there's no one particular area and we have to look very closely at the impact on staff or roles that remain, because work load will have to be shared, and in some cases we simply won't be able to do certain activities.

"What we are looking at is just how much testing we're doing within the business, on product for example, so there will be some changes in the laboratory team. We've got changes in the engineering team, which may mean we have to limit some of our investment in new items. We might have to defer some expenditures on repairs and maintenance for example. So all of those areas have been considered to try to increase our payout."

Mr Quin says the job losses will occur at the end of October and into November.

The co-operative has also confirmed its milk payout for last season will be $4.85 per kilogram of milk solids, with the co-operative retaining 10 cents per kg.

Mr Quin said the total group revenue for the 2014/2015 financial year was $639 million, down 23 percent on the previous year.

He said the payout was not great news, but there were some positive signs this season.

"It's not a strong payout for farmers. I think it's been obvious to all watching the dairy industry over the last 12 months that international dairy prices have really fallen and certainly reflective of our result."

He said they had lifted the forecast payout for the 15/16 season.

"Some good news to put out their finally after months and months of price declines is to see price moving in the right direction...so we have lifted our forecast payout by 30 cents, so we're now at $4.90 to $5.30, and importantly in that sum is our further contribution from our value add activities, so that's from EasiYo the homemade yoghurt business and more infant formula production."