Business

Farmer's milk is making a splash

CREAM OF THE CROP: Owner of Poppi’s Pantry Erin Talbot with some of the Scenic Rim 4Real milk the store is selling.
CREAM OF THE CROP: Owner of Poppi’s Pantry Erin Talbot with some of the Scenic Rim 4Real milk the store is selling. Sarah Harvey

THE first bottles of the highly anticipated Scenic Rim 4Real Milk hit Boonah shelves yesterday.

But it wasn't long before fridges emptied as customers got a taste of the independent label produced and bottled in their own backyard.

What's been described as a brave move by other Scenic Rim farmers is proving to be a success on first sip for defiant dairy farmer Greg Dennis, who called it quits with supermarket price wars and decided to go it alone.

The prospect of self-bottling became a reality when a renewal contract with his former processor offered a price 25% below processing costs.

It also followed discount pressures between major supermarkets after Coles lowered the price of milk in 2011 to $1 per litre.

Investing $1 million in the facility, south of Beaudesert, was a risk the fourth-generation dairy farmer was willing to take to save the farm his grandfather founded 80 years ago.

Boonah health food store Poppi's Pantry, among the first to receive crates off the production line, sold out within hours of opening. Owner Erin Talbot said customers couldn't wait to see it in-store.

"The Boonah locals are very pleased to see it," she said. "It 'tastes like real milk' is the response I'm getting. Everybody has been waiting eagerly."

Scenic Rim 4Real Milk is only distributed within 1.5 hours of the farm - and non-homogenised varieties means it "tastes the way milk used to taste", not forgetting the cream on top. The range includes a 750ml glass bottle and one-litre and two-litre cartons.

"Making the decision to process and bottle our own milk is one we haven't taken lightly," Mr Dennis, a father-of-two, said.

"Our entire family is committed to saving this farm.

"We've received hundreds of messages of support from people as far away as Perth. It's really given us the confidence that there are people out there who not only want to support local Australian farmers, but who also value fresh, minimally processed milk."

His 230 Holstein dairy cows produce about 6000 litres of milk a day, which will be stocked in shops and cafes in the Scenic Rim, Brisbane, Gold Coast and Ipswich, including Churchill Takeaway and Drake's IGA at Winston Glades.

Scenic Rim 4Real Milk will be officially launched by Minister for Agriculture John McVeigh next Tuesday, in collaboration with the Scenic Rim's Eat Local Week.

The Dennis family's Scenic Rim Robotic Dairy at Tamrookum will be open to the public to visit, sample the milk, view the robotic dairy and experience the process of producing, processing and bottling milk.

Topics:  boonah, eat local week, editors picks, milk



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