WCB - The Early Days ¦ Historical Timeline
WCB - The Early Days
The Warrnambool Cheese & Butter Factory Co Ltd (WCB) was registered on 28 May 1888 and is Australia's oldest surviving dairy company.
WCB was founded by a group of merchants and businessmen from Warrnambool and was in production less than six months from their first meeting.
Milk used in production was sourced from a small number of local dairy farmers.
Construction of the original factory buildings was completed on 13 September, 1888 and the official opening took place on 14 November, 1888.
The original 1888 factory buildings were demolished in 1897 and replaced by more modern and suitable premises. Unfortunately on 25 November, 1913 these buildings were destroyed by fire, subsequently resulting in the erection of another new building, which was officially opened on 3 September, 1914 by Premier John Murray.
The original payment for milk was approximately 4 pence per gallon (4.5 litres).
In late 1889, all suppliers became shareholders.
Creameries began operating in 1890 at Mepunga East, Nirranda and at Lake Gillear the following year.
The first butter shipment from Victoria to London occurred in September 1893, with WCB butter comprising 80 boxes (approximately 10 tonne) of the consignment.
WCB commenced cheese production in August 1893.
By 1895, milk production from WCB's 180 milk suppliers reached 10,000 gallons or 45,000 litres per day.
A dairy factory located nearby at Garvoc was acquired in 1922 and was later used by Kraft Walker Cheese Company for cheese production. In 1935, WCB and Kraft Walker Cheese Company began an association which still continues today.
Another disastrous fire on 6 February, 1929 destroyed almost the entire factory, including all records. Rebuilding saw the new factory completed in early October 1929.
||Third factory built on current site, after fire destroyed two earlier factories
||Affiliation with Kraft commenced
||Kraft and WCB purchased Sungold Milk brand and business
||Commissioned new cheese and WPC plant
||WCB became full owner of Sungold Milk
||Kraft sold natural cheese business to Dairy Farmers
||Built new milk powder plant
||Established sales office in Tokyo, Japan
||Built new fresh milk processing plant for Sungold Milk
||Listed on ASX
||Cheese capacity upgraded
||Butter making technology and capacity upgraded
||Entered into joint venture with Friesland Foods
||Established "WCB Japan" as a sales and distribution company
||Opening of "Great Ocean Ingredients"
||Capacity upgrade of the processing plant for Sungold Milk
||Great Ocean Road branded cheese and fresh milk in Coles supermarkets
||Lactoferrin plant operational
||Saputo Inc acquired 87.92% of WCB shares
||Acquisition of Everyday Cheese business of Lion Dairy & Drinks
||Saputo Inc. acquired remaining WCB shares to assume 100% ownership
For more information on the history of Warrnambool Cheese & Butter and the dairy industry, visit the Cheese World Museum.