Norco Lismore ice-cream factory back in business after flood recovery process

Tuesday, 28 November, 2023

Norco Lismore ice-cream factory back in business after flood recovery process

After an 18-month flood recovery process that cost more than $100m, the Norco Lismore ice-cream factory is officially back in business with 130 employees back on the job and ice cream back on supermarket shelves.

The factory was left decimated by the devastating 2022 Lismore floods, and the uncertainty that surrounded its future proved that it was far more than just a factory to the town and people of Lismore.

With the help of Australian and NSW Government funding, the factory has now been reopened following a year-long rebuild and commissioning process that has seen the 100% farmer-owned dairy co-operative build a more modern and flood-resilient facility than ever before, featuring flood-proof design and technologies that have equipped the site to defend a 15.0 m flood — higher than the 2022 levels.

The 10,800 m2 heritage-listed factory sits on 2.279 hectares and operates 24/7, five days a week (midnight Sunday to midnight Friday); a sixth day of operation may be introduced in the future.

The factory is capable of producing approximately 42 million litres of ice cream per year. That equates to approximately 808,000 litres of ice cream a week and 162,000 litres on any given day.

In addition to its own Norco brands, the factory produces ice cream for Australia’s major supermarkets and retailers, including five major retail customers in Australia and overseas, spanning over 50 individual SKUs.

Michael Hampson, Norco Chief Executive Officer commented how proud he was about the reopening of the rebuilt factory.

“We understand just how important the factory is to our workforce and the Lismore community and will remain future-focused on continuing to create opportunities for the region, maintaining a strong focus on innovation, jobs creation and investment in people, to create exciting career development pathways from right here in Lismore,” he said.

Hampson thanked both the Australian and NSW Governments during the opening ceremony of the facility.

The Federal Minister for Emergency Management, Senator the Hon Murray Watt, congratulated the Norco team and said the reopening was a significant milestone on the road to recovery in the Northern Rivers.

“Norco is one of the region’s biggest employers, and seeing the doors reopen will be a big boost for the community,” Watt said.

“The Albanese government invested $20 million directly and close to $35 million jointly with the NSW Government to help secure the future of Norco’s Northern Rivers operations, because of the important role it holds in the local community.

“We’re pleased to work collaboratively with the NSW Government and Norco to help keep staff employed and rebuild the factory to be more resilient to future flooding events.”

The NSW Minister for Agriculture, Minister for Regional NSW, Tara Moriarty comments: “The reopening of the Norco ice-cream factory marks a huge milestone in the flood recovery efforts for the Northern Rivers.

“As one of the biggest employers in the region, we know how important it is to invest in projects that deliver resilient infrastructure in regional communities so people can stay in jobs and the economy can thrive.

“Our shared goal with the 100% Australian dairy farmer-owned Norco is that in the event of any future flooding event, this investment in the rebuilt ice-cream factory has ensured the business will be able to get back into action quicker.

As Australia’s last operating dairy co-operative, the reopening is also welcome news for Norco’s 273 farmer members, many of whom are still working to rebuild following the floods.

“Norco is a 100% farmer-owned co-operative, which means that anytime someone chooses to buy Norco, every cent goes back to supporting our farmer members — so seeing Norco branded ice cream back on supermarket shelves offers a strong sign of positivity for those farmers who have been doing it tough in recent times,” Hampson said.

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