by Chris Tobin
Job losses have been commonplace in the wake of Covid-19 but there is room for optimism in South Canterbury.
Around-the-clock production is set to begin at a Temuka cheese factory, meaning the creation of new jobs, while Fonterra plans to take on extra workers at its two South Canterbury plants.
Talbot Forest Cheese shut down its bulk cheese manufacturing plant on May 3 for an upgrade and when it reopens in early July, it will be bigger.
“New equipment will allow us to increase production capacity, enabling us to move to 24/7 manufacturing operations from August 1,” Talbot general manager Andrew Bull said.
During the shutdown Talbot was recruiting 30 staff for permanent roles in the round-the-clock operation, he said.
“These new plant operator and cheese packer roles will allow us to .. make fuller use of the site’s capacity and capability. As a result, the factory will make more of what we make now.”
The factory had 85 employees at present, he said.
Fonterra has announced it intends to employ up to 100 extra workers at its Clandeboye and Studholme sites in the coming months, 20 of the positions being full time.
Clandeboye and Studholme operations manager Steve McKnight said positions were available across all parts of the business.
“These will be at our Clandeboye and Studholme sites and our Farm Source part of the business, totalling to around 100 roles.
“The roles are part of our regular recruitment process that we go through as we prepare for the coming season.”
Recruitment had begun and would ramp up closer to the peak of the 2020-21 season, which would begin in September.
He also said “the accelerated payment terms, where we are working with our 3000 small and medium-sized vendors across the country to accelerate the time it takes to pay their invoices to 10 days .. will affect 44 Timaru businesses”.
South Canterbury Chamber of Commerce chief executive Wendy Smith welcomed the job announcements.
“The advice that Talbot Forest Cheese will be moving on to a 24-hour production model is good news.
“Our food processing and manufacturing sector is holding up well and will be a key driver as the economy recovers from the Covid-19 crisis.
“In addition, the announcement of the new jobs at Fonterra is the injection of confidence that the district needs.
“Behind every job is a family, a home and a valuable member of our community. A strong economy is the lifeblood of our district – so all good news.”