FLEURIEU MILK COMPANY
Fleurieu Milk Company – a couple of local milk producers decided to leave the big boys to go it alone. And made themselves SA food heroes!
A visit to the Adelaide Showground Farmers Market is all it will take to convince anyone that we have a lot of dedicated and talented food producers in and around Adelaide and supporting them can only enrich us all as a community. Actually, supporting some of them – and I’m thinking specifically of my earlier post subject, Steven ter Horst, – has enriched my hips quite a lot, but it is a price I am prepared to pay! As a family, we have been dedicated customers to another local company, the Fleurieu Milk Company, since we first saw their products on the shelves of the local independent supermarket and after my previous post on the complexities of modern milk, I felt that it was time to get to know them better.
On what may well have been the wildest, wettest day in the hills this season, and armed with nothing but my very poor sense of direction and the company of my fourteen year old daughter, I sallied forth out of the Onkaparinga Valley, heading for Myponga on the Fleurieu Peninsula. To the surprise of The Husband, we arrived safely and in very good time, although I thought that his remarks about notifying the National Geographic Society, just in case they wanted to make a documentary about my trip were slightly unnecessary. Heading through town, we made our way to the modest dairy buildings that house the Fleurieu Milk Company, owned by Barry and Merridie Clarke, Chris and Karen Royans and Geoff and Louise Hutchinson.
The company was born out of a discussion between the three families while they were all on holidays together about 6 years ago. Relaxing on the Yorke Peninsula the chat got around to the difficulties of coping financially on the very poor farm gate prices paid for their milk and their lack of options given the prohibitive penalties applied by the monolithic dairy companies should the dairymen choose to sell less than 100% of their milk to them. In what was an incredibly brave move the Clarkes, Royans and Hutchinsons decided to pool their resources and strike out with their own dairy company. After overcoming some initial zoning issues concerning the fact that they are in a watershed area, in 2005 they started out with their own plant – an ex US army dairy and ice cream processing plant that had been used in Guam!
Their milk is pasteurised, but un-homogenised, and contains no permeate, resulting in a product whose properties and taste varies subtly with the seasons – just the way milk should taste! It is all produced and processed from the farm and is out of two separate herds of distinct breeds of dairy cows. The “Farm Fresh” range is out of the Hutchinson’s herd of 200 Fresian cows. The “Premium” range is out of the Clarke’s herd of pure Jersey cows – all of whom have tested positive for what is called the A2 milk gene. Originally, all dairy cows produced the A2 milk protein until a natural mutation occurred hundreds of years ago. Until the 1970’s, Australian dairy herds were often all Jersey cows who are now known to, mostly, carry the gene, but since this time most dairy farmers swapped to the Holstein-Fresian herds commonly seen today. While still the subject of some debate, A2 milk is believed by many (myself included) to have beneficial effects on some health conditions.
In the last five years the three families have worked hard at producing a consistently great product, expanded their range to now include flavoured milk and pure cream and have recently branched out into yoghurt production as well. Their ex-US military plant was soon upgraded and doubled in size and their local council has just approved the redevelopment and enlargement of the current dairy buildings. They have been selling at the Adelaide Showgrounds Farmers Market – whom they credit in part with their success – since it started and also attend both the Willunga Farmers Market and the Adelaide Hills Farmers Market at Mount Barker. Their products can also be found at independent supermarkets throughout the metropolitan area and now in some stores in Sydney and Perth! With such dedication to hard work, a high quality product and a commitment to their local resources and people it comes as no surprise to find that the modestly hopeful plan that was hatched in a holiday shack has now far exceeded their initial expectations!
Edited 22 July 2010
Fleurieu Milk Company has an homogenised full cream milk available in both ranges, too![mc4wp_form id="16750"]