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Renewed hope for Western Australia’s dairy industry with first commercial butter factory opening
April 2, 2018

An enterprising couple in Western Australia’s south west is capitalising on a global butter resurgence by opening the state’s first commercial-scale butter factory decades after the big processors shut up shop.

Despite rising butter prices, Australian consumers are becoming increasingly obsessed with the simple spread. Sales have been growing from between two to six per cent every year since 2013, and show no sign of stopping.

Amid the craze, Nick Power and Margaret Neilson saw a gap in the market. The husband and wife team has set up Jardin Estate inside the Margaret River Organic Creameries dairy factory.

“We love food and wine and it was a chance to mix business and pleasure and do something which we all enjoy, which is enjoy food,” Mr Power said.

“Now it’s really a case of finding a venue, finding a place where we can source the cream and have the passion to be able to say ‘okay, let’s create a new industry’.”

A big state’s sole factory
While only small, the butter factory has overcome three years of regulatory hurdles to finally open.

Now in its 10th week of operation, it’s producing about 30 kilograms of butter a week.

But Mr Power said they had plans to expand.

“Our longer term plan is to head up to 150 kilograms of butter a week,” he said.

Mr Power is not new to the food industry. He has owned farms and share farms for the past two decades and has a long history with the wine industry.

He and Ms Neilson said they intended to stay artisan but were “very confident” the new venture would be successful, having travelled to Europe for research and looked to Asian markets for export opportunities.

Natural credentials pushing price and popularity
Although they said it didn’t play a role in their decision to launch, the new buttery factory has opened during a modern butter revival.

The global price for butter has increased by 60 per cent in the past year and retail prices in Australia have grown by about 25 per cent.

Chefs and dietitians say butter’s natural credentials are pushing its popularity at the expense of margarine, which consumers now see as too processed.

In the six years WA chef Sophie Budds has been running a restaurant, catering company and cooking school, she said she had noticed more and more people appreciating butter’s simplicity.

“Cow, cream, butter — you can still tell where it came from,” Ms Budds said.
“People are getting reconnected to how things used to be done and it has been going on for a few years, but it’s now on a bigger scale and more of the public are starting to get it.”

She said the scores of local chefs prioritising local produce would ensure the factory’s growing popularity.

“It’s kind of crazy that we don’t have a big, decent butter producer in WA,” she said.

The health benefits of duelling spreads
Dietitian and spokesperson for the Dietitians Association of Australia Lisa Renn said her clients were all talking about butter.

“The clean, raw, natural kind of movement is impacting people’s understanding and they’re saying ‘I feel butter is healthier than margarine’.
“I definitely have seen a trend,” she said.

“The desire to eat well and to eat naturally and to eat close to whole foods as you can is across the board.”

While its ingredient list is small and its production process simple, butter isn’t necessarily better.

Margarine is still the marginal winner in the duelling spreads with 10 per cent less fat than butter and more of the goodness that comes from vegetable oils, according to Ms Renn.

Dairy isn’t the heart disease culprit it was thought to be for decades, but Ms Renn said her advice would never be to eat more butter.

“Whether you choose butter or margarine, it’s certainly about the consumption levels,” she said. “It’s not about copious amounts of anything.”

Renewed hope for WA’s dairy industry
For the Western Australian dairy industry, this small factory has brought hope for the future.

WA Farmers dairy section president Michael Partidge said it would also help with an excess supply of cream flooding the market.

“It’s another WA product going to be made which is great,” Mr Partridge said.

“It’s better for the consumer and it also gives confidence to the industry as a whole that there’s a bit of investment in manufacturing.

“You can’t margarine a scone and you can’t margarine a hot cross bun,” Mr Partridge added.

 

Source: MSN News



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