Cookhouse Creamery was purchased by the Just Milk Group in 2018 out of the Dairybelle liquidation.
Historically, the Just Milk Group provided all of its milk to Dairybelle, who in turn provided whey from the cheese making process to the Golden Valley and Cookhouse Piggeries, owned by Number Two Piggeries who are a key partner in Just Milk. The piggeries were situated on the Just Milk dairy farms and the manure from the piggeries was spread on the dairy pastures as a natural fertilizer.
This system worked well for all parties involved until Dairybelle went into default on their way to liquidation.
Production re-commenced in July 2018 with many Dairybelle’s ex-staff, including Elize de Vos who had worked at the Cookhouse Plant for 24 years.
Cookhouse Creamery produces bulk blocks of cheddar and 2.5kg mozzarella loaves. The factory also used to produce traditional Dutch rounds of Gouda which it will start producing again once market and space conditions allow.
Cookhouse Creamery market their cheese into bulk and value-add markets via strategic partners, Sundale Free Range Dairy, who are based in East London.
The Cookhouse factory can process 220,000 litres a day and is currently supplied by four Just Milk farms, being Riverside, Riverview, Dalfreuch and Leeway.
The Just Milk Group, through their three farms within 5km from Cookhouse and the factory, have become a key provider of jobs in the small town of Cookhouse, and hope to continue growing with assistance from the Blue Crane Municipality.
Drink milk. Eat cheese.
Updates Cookhouse Creamery
Cookhouse Creamery has been operational for about a year now and like all start up business we have had our fair share of challenges. Examples being no electricity to support production for 22 days ( yes 22 days!!), fortunately we have a huge generator that kept production going at a cost of 800 liters of diesel a day. Very little urgency from our municipality, I may add.
Our new cold store has been completed just in time to accommodate the additional milk as well as the spring flush. The cold room once complete will be racked with pallets five high. The cold room will hold 900 tons of cheese to allow maturation which takes 60 days.
Our milk intake has reached a peak of 130 000 litres a day and now includes the following farms, Riverside, Dalfreuch, Leeway and Riverview. For those unfamiliar with the production of cheese we achieve a yield of approximately 11% which on our current intake of milk equates to 14.3 tons of cheese a day. The rest is in the form of whey which is pumped to our Piggeries on Riverside and Leeway where it is fed to the pigs.
Other developments completed include;
- The installation of a second boiler.
- A backup compressor.
- New entrance gate and road.
- Reservoirs for backup water and fire protection.
We recently purchased the adjoining bed and breakfast, Birds in the Barley. Historically the building served as a factory shop.
The property is currently being rented.
Market conditions are extremely tough given the state of the economy but it’s a good experience for all those involved to weather the storm.
We are extremely proud of having the opportunity to reinstate a historical factory back to its former glory and add all the improvements we have done to date. We have afforded a number of people job opportunities which are hard to come by in Cookhouse. As we grow the business we will continue to take on more people and always offer our local community these available jobs.
Our Just milk group are extremely proud of our acquisition of Cookhouse Creamery and we look forward to being part of their growth. Cookhouse Creamery will soon be one of the leading cheese companies in South Africa, that I have absolutely no doubt about.
For further updates on our progress, watch this space!!
Images of Cookhouse Creamery
Meet the Team
Dirkie van Niekerk
Food Safety Manager
Anneri du Randt
Admin & Reporting Assistant