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Southern Australia milk consumers stay loyal to local brands
July 21, 2017

After a call to arms across the nation to support local farmers and buy branded dairy products 12 months ago, SA milk producers and suppliers have continued to experience an upward swing in economic growth.

Consumers moved away from $1 a litre supermarket milk in support of buying SA dairy.

Barossa dairy business Jersey Fresh struggled to meet initial demand.

The milking herd of 90 Jersey cows were producing 5000L of milk a week, but Jersey Fresh’s Lisa Werner said in a matter of days after the Support Your Local Dairyfarmer campaign launched, production was upped to in excess of 7000L a week.
She said the dairy was operating at full capacity and sales increased 15 per cent in that time.

“We went from our normal weekly patterns to telling Murray Goulburn we have no milk for you,” she said.

“We were pushing the capabilities of our factory and we had to go to a fifth day while we caught up with our orders.”

Supplying Murray Goulburn, local and metropolitan Foodland stores as well as Maggie Beer’s Farm Shop and Hentley Farm Wines, Jersey Fresh was unable to meet its Barossa Farmers Market order in recent months.

“We were taking 25 crates of milk and cream to the markets every week but because the demand has remained steady, we physically don’t have it in the cool room,” Ms Werner said.

“I think our sales will continue to stabilise because 12 months on we have retained about 70pc of the initial spike,” she said.

Metropolitan customers forgot the campaign quickly, according to Ms Werner, with extra milk crates only needed for a few months, but local sales grew and have continued to do so.

“I think no-brand milk is a dangerous trend and the only way we are going to combat it is to educate the consumer as to what effect it is having on us,” Ms Werner said.

“We have third, fourth generation city dwellers who have nothing to with agriculture and do not understand the relationship between farmers and their food.”

Processor welcomes lift Fleurieu Milk Company, Myponga, sources milk from four local dairy farmers and six during peak periods.

It produced 5.3 million litres last financial year, which filled 700 retail and food service contracts.

General manager Nick Hutchinson said the company averaged 12 to 15 new food service accounts a month for the past 12 months since consumers were asked to make the switch to branded dairy products.

May was another record sales month for the supplier and April sales were 30pc up on last year, but demand has plateaued.

“We are definitely continuing to grow but at a lower rate than when the spike hit in mid-2016,” Mr Hutchinson said.

“The plateau has not been a negative because if we kept having to produce at the level we experienced in May last year we would not have kept up.

“Since June-2016 our employment has doubled; in 12 months we have grown to a level we had not planned,” he said.

Post-farmgate knowledge is key

SA Dairy Farmers are now equipped to tell consumers the exact end-point of their milk, as processors and suppliers have continued to build a link between the producer and the supermarket shelf.

Barossa Mid North Dairy Farmers’ Co-operative chairman Andrew Koch said 9 million litres of milk from five local dairy producers were sourced for the Farmers’ Own brand in the past financial year.

Mr Koch said local dairy farmers benefited in more ways than just financially after the Support Your Local Dairy Farmer campaign.

He said the majority of dairy farmers were asked where their milk could be bought and previously, had been unable to answer this question.

“We get asked a lot and by supplying Farmers’ Own through Woolworths, we can categorically tell our customers if you buy this brand you will be buying our milk.

“This is a benefit for the farmers involved because in the past when we were supplying others, the tanker left your gate and you had no idea which factory it was going to end up in.”


Summer 2018