It is the end of a cheese-making era at Fonterra’s Edendale factory and 34 jobs will be disestablished at the Southland site.

After 140 years, New Zealand’s longest-running cheese-making operation has closed.

The Edendale Dairy Company was established in 1881 and began producing cheese from about 200 handmilked cows on January 18, 1882.

Fonterra was formed in 2001 from the merger of the country’s two biggest dairy cooperatives and took over the operation of the Edendale plant.

Fonterra lower South Island general manager of operations Richard Gray said the cheese plant had not been operating since the end of last year.

‘‘As is good business practice, we’re continually reviewing our assets to check we have the right fit to meet our strategy.’’

The closure affected 34 roles.

‘‘We are working with the team on redeployment opportunities, of which there are many, both on-site and within the co-op.’’

The plant had the capacity to produce up to 10,000 tonnes of cheese a year.


The company would continue to produce cheese at nine other plants.

Former Fonterra shareholder Paul Duffy, of Edendale, said Southland had a reputation for making ‘‘excellent’’ cheese.

‘‘I was always of the understanding it was partly to do with the grass.

‘‘It is a shame to see cheesemaking in Southland end but like all these things there are economic reasons why.’’

Prior to becoming a dairy farmer, Mr Duffy worked at the Seaward Downs Dairy Factory.

That factory and six others amalgamated in 1977 and an automatic cheese-making plant was installed at the Edendale site, Mr Duffy said.

‘‘Prior to that, the cheese that was made in Southland was in the smaller dairy factories where it was made in open vats.’’

That technology was now more than 45 years old, he said.