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Big plans...Talbot Forest Cheese is expanding and eyeing global markets. PHOTO: CHRIS TOBIN

by Chris Tobin

Geraldine couple Paul Fitzsimons and Angela Veale started Talbot Forest Cheese about 20 years ago, making 10 tonnes of cheese a year at an artisan factory in Geraldine.

They opened the Temuka operation in 2017.

Last year they sold the Talbot Forest Cheese brand, property and plant at the Temuka site to giant dairy company Synlait for a figure estimated between $30million and $40million.

“Since Synlait acquired Talbot Forest Cheese last year, we have had increasing customer demand for our existing products, which fits well within the company’s planned growth in the everyday dairy category,” Talbot Forest Cheese general manager Andrew Bull said.

Talbot Forest Cheese has also been recently integrated with Dairyworks, formerly of Temuka and now of Christchurch, which has been operating as a stand-alone Synlait subsidiary.

Synlait completed the purchase of Dairyworks in April this year, paying $112million for the company.

Dairyworks was established in Temuka in 2001 and launched nationally into stores in 2005.

The company bought cheese from the nearby Fonterra Clandeboye plant and other manufacturers, cutting, packaging and branding it for the New Zealand market.

The company moved to Christchurch in 2009, where it has expanded and now employs more than 230 staff.

Synlait said acquiring Dairyworks enabled it to access large and growing global dairy markets and provided a high-value channel to market Talbot Forest Cheese.

“The integration will create a single business that will deliver operational efficiencies and new growth opportunities,” Mr Bull said.

“Despite the integration of these two businesses, foodies will be pleased to know that the much-loved Talbot Forest Cheese brand will continue to be produced at the Temuka site.”