Niche dairy factory takes over town site

Mortlake Organic Dairy takes over old Clarke's Pies factory on Dunlop Street

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OPEN: Organic Dairy owners Bruce Symons and Matthieu Megard have transformed an old Clarke's Pies factory to make their product. Picture: Mark Witte

OPEN: Organic Dairy owners Bruce Symons and Matthieu Megard have transformed an old Clarke's Pies factory to make their product. Picture: Mark Witte

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They have plans to employ up to 20.

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CHANGE is in the air on Mortlake's main street as an artisan dairy factory starts production bringing 15 new jobs to the town.

Mortlake Organic Dairy has breathed new life into a former Clarke's Pies factory that it used over a decade ago for pie manufacturing before leasing it to Midfield Meats until last year.

Now dairy company owners Bruce Symons and Matthieu Megard have joined forces, bringing together two existing dairy brands - L'Artisan Cheese and Symons Organic Dairy - at the site.

"Matt was a tenant and I was relying on three contract manufacturers but we now both own the site and control our own destinies for the next 10 to 20 years," Mr Symons said.

The site is producing soft cheeses, washed rind cheeses, haloumi and parmesan using milk from two south-west organic dairy farmers.

"We are excited that we have our own farmers and give a good milk return," Mr Symons said. "We would like to be close to the milk supply and we think south-west Victoria is the best place for that in Australia."

The site currently employs 15 workers, but there are plans to increase that to 20 by the year's end.

Mr Symons grew up delivering milk for his family's century old Bendigo-based Symons Dairy, which he relaunched as Symons Organic Dairy in 2017. His products are now stocked in about 400 stores, including two in Mortlake.

"I have seen some gaps in the market and I am trying to fill those gaps. I will be able to start to provide products where there are no organic equivalents in the market," Mr Symons said.

The site's equipment has come from L'Artisan's previous Geelong factory with additional cheese making equipment still in transit from Europe.

OPEN: Organic Dairy owners Matthieu Megard and Bruce Symons have transformed an old Clarke Pies factory to make their product, creating up to 20 jobs. Picture: Mark Witte

OPEN: Organic Dairy owners Matthieu Megard and Bruce Symons have transformed an old Clarke Pies factory to make their product, creating up to 20 jobs. Picture: Mark Witte

"We have also installed cost-effective cutting, packing, and wrapping manufacturing equipment into Mortlake," Mr Symons said.

Mr Megard is a third generation cheese maker, with his L'Artisan brand starting in Timboon a decade ago and now supplying restaurants and delis.

Moyne Shire mayor Daniel Meade said it was "fantastic" 20 new jobs would be created in Mortlake.

"It's certainly a significant commercial facility there that is important for the town and to have it operating again is fantastic. I'm sure that business will go very well and get the support from the town."

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