Bega Cheese has announced it will cut 74 jobs at its Bega Valley factory in south-eastern New South Wales.

The cheese manufacturer produces processed and packaged cheese at the factory for both own-brand products and to supply others. The company has attributed the cuts to a drop in domestic market demand for its products, as consumers instead look to fresh cut cheese.

Production will now be shifted to the company’s factory in Strathmerton, in regional Victoria.

Executive Chairman of Bega Cheese, Barry Irvin, told ACB News the move was part of a review of the company’s operations.

“The situation isn’t related to the pandemic, it’s related to our processing cheese factory,” Mr Irvin told the national broadcaster.

“We’ve elected to consolidate just the processed cheese into the Strathmerton facility because it has been purpose-built.

“Anyone who goes to the supermarket these days will see that consumers are buying natural cheese slices not processed cheese slices … it’s a shrinking market.”

It’s understood Bega will try to meet the quota via voluntary redundancies and the workers will cease their employment by the end of the year.

It’s a blow to the community of roughly 35,000 already hit hard recently by bushfires.

Bega Cheese last year flagged it was anticipating a tough financial year for 2020, largely driven by supply and competition constraints for milk, including increasing the price paid to farmers to secure dairy supplies.The company shut their Coburg factory in Melbourne in 2018, where it produced cheddar and mozzarella cheese, also citing drops in demand.

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