Australia’s Norco dairy survives catastrophic flood to post $9.1m profit

The co-op is getting ready to reopen its Lismore ice cream factory after a multi-million dollar rebuild including new flood defences

Australian dairy co-op Norco has defied the ongoing impact of last year’s catastrophic floods to record a profit of AU$9.1m for 2022-23, an increase of $0.2m.

Revenue totalled $682m, up from $651m last year, and branded milk sales volume rose 7.8%. It has paid its farmer members 87.08 cents per litre – a record milk price for the co-op, with the increase costing an additional $30m.

The co-op has still to re-open its Lismore ice cream factory after the floods that hit New South Wales. The site needed a major rebuild, with work delayed as the Covid-19 pandemic disrupted supply chains of electrical equipment from China.

The site has been shut for more than 18 months but is due to come back online after a rebuild estimated to have cost $60m–$70m.

Helped by a $34.7m anchor business support grant from the federal and NSW governments, the rebuild includes flood mitigation work, offering resilience to a 15-metre level, which is higher than the floods of 2022, and automation.

Norco also lost two rural stores and its mill in the flood, and its head office was inundated. Despite this disruption it has delivered its second-highest profit after diversifying its business.

Chief executive Michael Hampson told Australia’s ABC news that the co-op has had two difficult years which have forced it to make a number of changes to the business, “which has driven some better results”.

Activity was increased across other parts of the business to compensate for the loss of the ice cream factory, in liner with a continuous improvement programme introduced three years ago.

“Now we’ve grown all areas of our business, our retail, agri-solutions business, our feed mill business, our milk business,” said Hampson.