Cheese-making success recognised

OBiz supreme winner, Simon Berry, of Whitestone Cheese, his wife Annabel Berry (centre), of...
OBiz supreme winner, Simon Berry, of Whitestone Cheese, his wife Annabel Berry (centre), of Design Federation, and Chamber of Commerce president Ali Copeman at the 2014 OBiz awards held at the Dunedin Town Hall. Photo by Linda Robertson.
Whitestone Cheese, of North Otago, was founded in 1987 as a diversification during the 1980s rural downturn and a series of crippling droughts.

Last night, the company won the Westpac-Otago Chamber of Commerce Supreme Business Awards at the 2014 OBiz awards ceremony held in Dunedin.

About 330 people attended the function which is held every two years.

Notes provided to the Otago Daily Times said Whitestone founder Bob Berry's experience in livestock trading was quickly applied to cheese trading.

The original factory was set up in Oamaru in a converted garage with milk sourced from local farms. One variety, Whitestone Farmhouse, was launched.

The business grew as an extension of the farming operation until today's purpose-built factory was commissioned in 1998.

Bob Berry's son, Simon, joined the business and the farm was sold to enable them to concentrate on developing the family enterprise.

Simon Berry now oversees the business management, cheese-making team, marketing and production.

The factory employs more than 50 staff and produces more than 20 varieties of cheese, supplying products for domestic and food service markets.

Internationally, Whitestone exports to Australia, Fiji, Singapore, Hong Kong, Japan, Qatar and the United States.

Otago Chamber of Commerce president Ali Copeman was delighted the Oamaru company had won the supreme award.

Whitestone Cheese also won the manufacturing and primary category.

The versatility of the region could be celebrated through the business awards and having more regional entries each time the awards were held contributed to a strengthening economy.

Companies adding value and exporting from Otago were the key to the region's prosperity, she said.

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