It’s time to start paying attention, folks – familiar Australian owned milk brands and large Australian-owned dairy processors are almost a thing of the past.
Next time you are standing at the dairy fridge pondering the increasingly dizzying array of milk choices, think carefully before you reach for a bottle. Now, more than ever, we need to look for Australian owned milk brands because nearly all of the big names in dairy that you might be familiar with are owned internationally.
It was announced this week, that the China Mengniu Dairy, which has already purchased Bellamy’s, one of Australia’s largest organic infant formula companies, has launched a bid for the Lion Dairy & Drinks portfolio. This is one of Australia’s largest milk processors (if I’m wrong, please correct me) and was previously owned by Kirin, the Japanese beer company. Familiar Australian milk brands like Dairy Farmers, Masters, Pura Milk, Dare and Farmers Union iced coffee, Big M, Dairy Farmers and Pura Classic flavoured milk, Vitasoy soy milk and coconut milk, juice brands Daily Juice, The Juice Brothers and Berri, and Yoplait yogurt are all owned internationally.
They join major Australian owned milk brands in the rest of the country, including major processors in Western Australia and Tasmania, who have been sold off to international companies. In fact, I’m not sure that there is one major dairy processor left in Australia who is Australian owned. Again, please correct me if I’m wrong.
Of course all of these companies use Australian milk, bought from Australian farmers (don’t get me started on the farm-gate price of milk), and processed using Australian workers, creating Australian jobs (and have the power to influence Australian incomes, but that’s a whole ‘nother kettle of fish).
However, there is a much bigger picture to be aware of here, because what we are doing is selling off the control of our own food security. As Andrew Wilkie says, in a recent Financial Review story, “The issue here is the increasing concentration of control of Australia’s leading brands, and in this case Australia’s second largest milk processor, in the hands of a single country where all business enterprises have obligations to the central government”.
A government with a huge, and rapidly growing, population that it has to feed. A government that appears to actually be interested in ensuring future food security for it’s people. A government playing a long game, with long-term goals. Remember those?
So, as far a I can work out from my very limited research, Australian-owned, large-scale dairy processing is almost over. If that particular horse hasn’t actually bolted just yet, it’s certainly in the starting gate.
When it comes to Australian owned milk brands and future food security, it’s time to start paying attention, folks.
It’s time to start thinking – properly – about where your food comes from and, more importantly, where it is going to come from in the future.
It’s time to start caring about what you put in the mouths of your family, how it was produced, who produced it, who owns the production of it and whether or not it will be there for you in the future – because that’s not always necessarily going to be a given.
It’s time to step up and support the small local producers and Australian owned milk brands in our communities. Local producers who own their means of production, who have put their heart, soul and the financial security of their families into their food business. Local producers who live in and are invested in our communities, who supply jobs, and spend money, and are visibly accountable in our communities.
(Edited – If you are a Coles shopper, look for SADA Fresh, a label sold by them, produced exclusively by South Australian dairies, but marketed by Parmalat, a French-owned company.)
Other states will have their own brands to discover and enjoy.
Hunt them all down in the independent supermarkets, buy them from your local farmer’s market, visit their websites, like their Facebook pages, tell them you love them on Instagram.
But for heaven’s sake SUPPORT THEM. Use it, or lose it.