Tuesday, 31 January 2017 06:55

Bridging the gap between urban customers and dairying

Written by  Pam Tipa
Nelson dairy farmer Julian Raine with the bottled milk. Nelson dairy farmer Julian Raine with the bottled milk.

Trying to bridge the disconnect between urban customers and dairying is a motivation for seventh-generation dairy Nelson farmers Julian and Cathy Raine to start a new venture named Aunt Jean’s Dairy.

The Raines are teaming up with glass manufacturer O-I to bring A2 cows’ milk fresh from the farm to milk lovers around New Zealand, in one litre glass bottles.

Initially, Aunt Jean’s Dairy milk is available in the top of the South Island and in selected Auckland outlets, with plans for wider national distribution this year.

Already an innovator in the dairy field, Julian, who is also president of Horticulture NZ, says he likes to try new things.

“We are trying to get the customer to understand milk doesn’t come from a supermarket – it actually comes from a cow,” Julian Raine told Dairy News.

“We have a viewing room in the dairy (at Oaklands) and we bring school groups onto the farm. You’d be surprised at the comments that come back from not only the kids but also from the parents and teachers. It is a serious issue for the dairy industry: we’ve become disconnected from our communities.”

For example, one mother did not realise you had to calve a cow before you got milk from that cow.

“That disconnect seems to be becoming greater so we’ve got to do something positive about getting it back. That’s what I am doing with this.”

Aunt Jean’s Dairy launched in Auckland late last year in Farro Fresh and in Nelson at Raeward Fresh, with plans to go nationwide.

“The thinking behind the product is to provide a specialty item which firstly is in glass and secondly is from A2 tested cows and thirdly it is fully traceable milk back to our farms,” Julian explains.

“I can tell you what they had for breakfast this morning and tea last night so we can have a direct link to our customers and we can answer any queries people might have on animal welfare, environmental standards, etc.

“We have two farms: one milks about 200 cows and the other milks about 400. Our home farm of 200 is all A2 cows and the other is about 50%.”

The family have been dairy farming in Stoke for at least 80 years and has been on the same farm continuously for 170 years.

They have another brand, Oaklands Milk, which has been around for nearly four years, all in the Nelson area.

“We have dispensers, we have a home delivery service and we’ve been supplying cafes and restaurants in Nelson,” Raine says.

“This is the next step to go more nationwide on a supermarket brand.”

With the new product he points out that any glass bottle can be recycled. Glass is infinitely more recyclable than plastic: about 90% of glass is recycled in NZ but only about 20% of plastic.

Anecdotally he has heard from customers that milk tastes better from glass.

“We firmly believe that milk in glass bottles tastes better,” says Raine. “We know that NZers were reluctant to shift to plastic. We think the time is right to provide a way for them to drink milk fresh from the farm in a one-litre glass bottle.

After all, glass is infinitely recyclable and that has to be a good thing.”

Aunt Jean’s Dairy uses milk from A2 cows with no palm kernel expeller in their feed, and they are mainly grass-fed.

The milk is bottled onfarm, contains no permeates and is not homogenised so the cream rises to the top.

The cows that produce Aunt Jean’s Dairy milk products are A2-tested cows that produce the less commonly found A2 type of beta-casein milk protein.

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