I first realised that the Australian cheese industry was a great con when, as a south coast of NSW resident, I visited the Bega cheese factory for one of those factory tours and was told that the only Bega cheese actually produced there was the one labelled vintage. The rest might be wrapped and labelled Bega but all of it was produced somewhere else.

With cheese there’s none of that nonsense as there is with wine about truth in labelling. Just get it made to the recipe wherever the production costs are least.

And sometimes don’t even worry about the yeasts that are meant to be the basis of the recipe. Those plastic slices in the supermarket deli are all turned out from the same factory whatever the label indicates. It’s all part of the great dairy deception.

If you wonder what I mean, call in one day at Bodalla on the NSW south coast. Bodalla cheddar is one of the country’s biggest selling brands but it as sure as hell is not made at Bodalla where there no longer is a major cheese factory.

If you made a wine at Griffith and labelled it as Coonawarra you would be facing fraud charges but that’s not so with cheese where anything goes.

I was prompted to remember my Bega cheese visit  by the story that more than 170 workers will be sacked from three cheese manufacturing factories in Victoria and Tasmania following a consolidation decision by National Foods. The decision to consolidate all the company’s cheese brands, except King Island, at an upgraded site at Burnie, Tasmania, also has left 103 staff at two South Australian manufacturers in limbo and infuriated dairy farmers.

A six-month review by National Foods of six cheese manufacturers across Victoria, South Australia, Queensland and Tasmania, the story said, concluded it was not sustainable to operate the multiple sites.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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