Can you remember when you first tasted Norco ice cream?
For me it was 1973, when I came to Nimbin as a first-year uni student for the Aquarius Festival.
It was a revelation: soft and creamy and smooth and rich, especially compared to the watery, icy rubbish we had to make do with in the city.
Or maybe it was all the green stuff being passed around.
Still, I fell in love with Norco products from my first taste of its ice cream, so it’s great to know it’s going to be around for years to come.
$30 million investment
On Friday (October 19), the co-operative announced a doubling of its ice cream manufacturing capacity thanks to a $15 million investment by its farmer owners, matched dollar for dollar by the federal government.
The $30 million project will secure the existing 850 jobs at Norco’s Lismore ice cream factory and ensure more workers will be needed when the factory moves to 24/7 operation once it is complete.
The work includes the construction of a two-storey building to accommodate the two spiral freezer tunnels, the installation of a fully automated robotic palletising system, water recovery machines and new vats.
Norco acting CEO Greg McNamara said the expansion was ‘an amazing opportunity to develop a world class ice cream facility.’
‘The doubling of production will substantially improve the ice cream business unit’s profitability which will lead to increased farm gate prices to farmers when the project is completed.’
Federal Page MP Kevin Hogan (Nationals), who helped expedite the grant, said it was ‘great news for Norco employees, those looking for work and our local dairy industry’.
‘The doubling of production means the milk price paid to Norco’s 220 member farms will increase by $20,500 for each farm every year once the plant is completed. This will make our dairy industry more sustainable.
‘This additional farm income will be spent locally in our shops and businesses, further strengthening our economy,’ he said.
The federal government’s $15 million contribution to the project comes from the Regional Growth Fund.