The Early Days
The Warrnambool Cheese & Butter Factory Coy Ltd (WCB) was registered on 28 May 1888 and is Australia's oldest dairy company. It now operates under Warrnambool Cheese and Butter Factory Company Holdings Limited.
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 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.
1929 Third factory built on current site, after fire destroyed two earlier factories
1935 Affiliation with Kraft commenced
1956 Kraft and WCB purchased Sungold Milk brand and business
1993 Commissioned new cheese and WPC plant
1986 WCB became full owner of Sungold Milk
1997 Kraft sold natural cheese business to Dairy Farmers
1998 Built new milk powder plant
2002 Established sales office in Tokyo, Japan
2004 Built new fresh milk processing plant for Sungold Milk
2004 Listed on ASX
2005 Cheese capacity upgraded
2006 Butter making technology and capacity upgraded
2007 Entered into joint venture with Friesland Foods
2008 Established "WCB Japan" as a sales and distribution company
2009 Opening of "Great Ocean Ingredients"
2012 Capacity upgrade of the processing plant for Sungold Milk
2013 Great Ocean Road branded cheese and fresh milk in Coles supermarkets
2014 Lactoferrin plant operational
2014 Saputo acquired an interest of 87.92% of Warrnambool Cheese and Butter Factory Company Holdings Limited.
2015 WCB acquired the Everyday Cheese business of Lion Dairy & Drinks Australia Pty Ltd.
2017 Saputo acquired remaining Shares to assume 100% ownership