The Fleurieu Milk 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, the Fleurieu Milk Company was created.
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.
Fleurieu Peninsula businesses were very enthusiastic to stock ‘local’ milk from the beginning, however it quickly became more than just the Fleurieu Peninsula.
Being accepted by Foodland ‘The Mighty South Aussies’ was a major step in the right direction. Chapley’s, Romeo’s, Drakes and all independent Foodland IGA supermarkets began to get behind Fleurieu Milk Company and in turn sales continued to increase beyond any expectations.
For these stores to begin stocking a product that had yet to be proven in the market place was a bold move but something the Fleurieu Milk Company was extremely grateful for.
Over the following years the company continued to introduce new products. One litre bottles were introduced in August 2007, Iced Coffee in April 2008, Cream in November 2008, Chocolate Milk in June 2009 and Strawberry Milk in March 2011.
In March 2010 the company also diversified the product range and began producing Yoghurt. The Yoghurt is available in 100 gram, 250 gram and 500 gram tubs in the flavours of Natural, Honey, Mango, Passionfruit and Mixed Berry.
The Fleurieu Milk Company is currently producing in excess of 100,000 litres per week. All milk from the two supplying dairy farms is being utilised. On top of this, 100% of milk from a third Myponga based dairy farm is being utilised, and a large proportion of a fourth farm is also being bottled.
Fleurieu Milk products are found all around South Australia, as well as small selected stores in New South Wales, Victoria, and Alice Springs.
Export markets around the world also present opportunities for growth in the near future.
Our farmers always knew there was a niche opportunity to provide a superior milk but what they didn’t bargain for was the support they would receive from the general public.
Barry says, "This is the most satisfying part of the journey. People are willing to give us a chance simply because we are a local producer. We can’t thank these people enough."