Premier Steven Marshall has unveiled a mural depicting the history of Jervois’ dairy factory at a celebration of its recent successes.
Among the designs on the wall of the Beston Global Food Company’s factory is an image of a teenaged Oscar Cheso unloading a milk cart, based on a black-and-white photo.
Mr Cheso, now in his 90s, was there to see its unveiling.
"I used to feed my cows on this block here," he said, gesturing around the building where about 80 people schmoozed and ate canapes.
He recalled arriving in Australia in 1936, taking livestock on the ferry, firing a wood boiler at the factory after it was built and even filling in as a cheesemaker when workers called in sick.
Three years ago the factory's plant was dismantled when its former owners fell into receivership; since Beston’s intervention, and the installation of a $26.5 million mozzarella plant, the cheese it produces has won more than 70 medals.
The factory also makes cream for ice cream makers Golden North and whey which is exported to five Asian countries.
It will soon begin producing lactoferrin, a valuable ingredient in pharmaceutical products.
"This is exactly where we need to be in SA," Mr Marshall said.
"This is an attractive and productive part of our state, made more productive by the investment Beston has made."
He hailed master cheesemaker Paul Connolly as "to cheese what Modra is to goals", and company chairman Roger Sexton as a champion of industry in South Australia.
Murray Bridge Mayor Brenton Lewis said companies such as Beston were extremely important to the regional economy.
Though he acknowledged it would be hard for dairies to increase production at present, he said Beston's growing demand for milk – it would need another 150 million litres over the coming years – represented a great opportunity.
"The importance to the region of the dairy industry is understated, but the importance to the dairy industry of the investments Beston Foods has made is yet to be realised," he said.
Beston Global Foods chairman Roger Sexton thanked the staff, local tradespeople, company directors, Murray Bridge council and mural artist Adam Poole-Mottishaw for making Beston's recent successes possible.
But he especially thanked the drought-stricken dairy farmers who supplied to Beston.
The company would soon release a special-edition vintage cheese, he said, and return an extra 50 cents from the sale of each block to farmers to meet the cost of feed and other necessities.