Toowoomba's $50m formula factory targets 30 million tins
A MASSIVE $300 million investment and construction of a milk formula factory at Wellcamp will boost the dairy industry and take the Toowoomba brand direct to the booming Asian market.
Construction will start on the $50 million formula factory adjacent to Toowoomba Wellcamp Airport in January, marking the first of three stages planned for Toowoomba Premium Milk.
TPM managing director Steve Laracy said the initial factory, or stage one, would produce 30 million tins of formula for export.
With those plans in place, Mr Laracy said investment was now being sought for Stage 2 - a $150 million fresh milk factory geared towards the export market.
Mr Laracay said the company was in talks with freight airlines to export about 200,000 litres of fresh milk from Toowoomba daily in what he described as a long-term goal for the enterprise.
"The stage two is the jewel in the crown," Mr Laracy said.
"We're focused on the export market but obviously there's going to be a domestic market as well, especially with our fresh milk.
"Our strategic advantage is being able to fly out of Toowoomba - no one else has that capacity.
"We want to get into stage two as quickly as we can."
Stage three includes an up-to 10,000 head American barn-style dairy farm near the Queensland-NSW border which would deliver fresh product to the Wellcamp factory.
About half of the milk processed at the plant would be sourced from existing dairy producers with the balance supplied from its own farm.
The product will be branded Toowoomba Premium, a considered choice to capitalise on the region's clean and green reputation for produce.
"We want to give it a geographic point in Australia and it's a premium product," Mr Laracy said.
"Because of our vertical integration with our formula, we will be able to show the consumer the supply chain."
Formula factory a boon for region: Food Leaders Australia
FOOD Leaders Australia general manager Bruce McConnel described the Toowoomba Premium Milk project as a "watershed" moment for the region.
"It is the first large-scale investment built with an eye on the airport," he said.
"It brings competition to the milk industry and ... lead to better farm gate prices for producers.
"This is going to be a large-scale brand and get Toowoomba well-known.
"TPM will fill up a jumbo jet a day when it gets through to stage two.
"Around that, we now have a perishable supply chain to Asia with the horticulture around that milk delivered daily into Asia."
Formula factory by-products such as distilled water and heat would also give new opportunities to regional producers for "clean and green production", he said.