FLEURIEU MILK COMPANY STORY.
For many centuries Myponga, located on the foothills of the Fleurieu Peninsula, has been acknowledged as a farming community, in particular dairy farming. During the mid-late 1900’s Myponga had approximately 40 dairy farms all receiving a sufficient income to support their families. However, during the early 2000’s the viability of owning a dairy was quickly becoming obsolete. Feed prices were rising rapidly whilst the farm gate price returned to the farmer was declining. The results were obvious, farms throughout Australia were being forced to sell their stock and escape the financial hardship. The farms operating in Myponga had decreased from around 40 to 10.Two of the farms still battling were owned by Barry and Merridie Clarke, Chris and Karen Royans, and Geoff and Louise Hutchinson. These three families quite clearly understood if they didn’t differentiate themselves they would also be forced to sell the farms that had been with their families for generations. It was at this point in 2004 that they began brainstorming ideas about ways to bottle and sell their own milk. It was clear that the full cream, quality milk that was being taken from the farm was not being on sold in the shops. There was a niche in the market that they believed could be tapped by providing “real milk, how it used to taste” to the consumer.
With nothing to lose, in 2006 Fleurieu Milk Company was created and the three families began their journey. The emphasis was on quality. There was a gap in the market for real milk and Fleurieu Milk believed they could fill it. The two farms had differing herds. Barry and Merridie had a Jersey herd of which the milk would be labelled ‘Jersey Premium.’ Chris, Karen, Geoff and Louise had a Friesian Holstein herd of which the milk would be labelled ‘Farm Fresh.’ Both farms would bottle a low fat, homogenised, and unhomogenised milk. A closed down dairy became the site for the production factory, which is on the farm owned by Chris, Karen, Geoff and Louise. Two stressful years were then spent ensuring everything was in place ready to begin bottling milk.
13 years on the company has continued to grow and received unprecedented support from the South Australian public. The product range has expanded to include flavoured milk, pouring cream and five flavours of yoghurt. The company remains owned by the same original directors who all still milk the cows and enjoy their family lives in the occupation they dreamt of.
FROM GRASS TO GLASS
Our aim is to minimise the production process as much as possible. We want our products to be as close to natural as possible. All milk by law must be pasteurised for sale however in order to keep all the goodness in the milk we only pasteurise the milk to minimum legal temperature of 72°C. This is the only process that takes place in our unhomogenised milk which means when you purchase this product you are consuming a product that is exactly how nature intended. Our logistic chain from cow to shelf significantly differentiates us from our competitors. Positioning our processing factory on farm, only 500 metres from the closest dairy and 4km from the furthest, allows us to ensure our products reach the consumer in the freshest possible condition. Within only a few hours the cow is milked, the milk is transported to the factory, then it’s pasteurised, bottled and transported to store level. This allows you to be drinking milk only hours after it was obtained from the cow.
We are extremely proud of the way our company has continued to grow over the past 15 years. To now have over 70 employees and 9 supplying farms is something our directors never thought they would see. That said, we have no intention of sitting on our hands and ‘being happy with what we’ve achieved’. We want to continue our growth, creating more local jobs, enhancing the dairy industry, and boosting the local economy here on the Fleurieu Peninsula. 2020/21 is a year of ‘investment’ at FMC. We have recently tripled our cold room capacity at the Southern end of our factory. We are also increasing our raw milk storage capacity from 23,000 litres to120,000 litres with 4 large silos’ being positioned on the Eastern side. With new processing equipment, and robotic packing systems due in April, we will be able to increase our processing capacity as well. This investment of over 4 million dollars will give us the efficiencies to move forward in the coming years. Our nine dairies have their own unique setup, share farmer Rob Walmsley – Windy Vale Holsteins is one of the most up to date, modern dairy designs in South Australia. Rob’s dairy layout allows him to maintain close contact with his herd (we think this is an important part of farming) whilst managing the milking of thirty cows at any one time. With the use of microchipping, each cow is fed and milked subject to their output (how much milk they give) as well as what state of health and wellbeing the cow is in. Each month our farmers carry out herd testing to help eliminate the risk of disease whilst monitoring the quality through blood cell counts. At our factory the milk is first pasteurised to eliminate certain bacteria and enzymes. We choose to heat our milk to 72.5 degrees, the minimum legal temperature as we believe this is how milk should taste. The following two processes include homogenisation and separation. Homogenisation is a process that evenly distributes the fat globules giving milk its rich, white colour and smooth texture whereas unhomogenised milk contains a layer of cream that naturally rises to the top of a glass or bottle. Milk is delivered to our factory, bottled and sent to store within the first 24 hours. In 2017 Fleurieu Milk Company made the decision to bring distribution back in house. Our fleet now consists of more than 18 company vehicles providing a sustainable income for more 27 Fleurieu Milk employees involved in our distribution team. Since managing our own distribution, we are pleased to be able to provide customers a higher level of personalised service plus greater flexibility. In addition, we also utilise an online ordering system designed to help enhance efficiencies through the routing of more than 1000 retailers throughout metropolitan and regional South Australia.