There is a growing demand for the fresh milk in Australia JANE BENNETT
TASMANIANS will be able to source homegrown goat’s milk as TasFoods adds another string to its agricultural bow and a supermarket replaces imported product with local.
TasFoods bought a 500head goat herd from a Gunns Plains dairy about two months ago and the animals moved into the company’s Nichols Chicken business at Sassafras.
The chickens are being progressively moved into mobile coops where they can walk on grass, and former hen sheds now house the goats, which keep in check longer grass in gullies and steep terrain across the property.
A portable herringbone milking system from South Riana has been moved to Sassafras. Milking has begun and current production is about 1000 litres a day.
The fresh milk is processed at TasFoods’ new dairy plant at Kings Meadows in Launceston. The milk will be available from Woolworths under the Robur Farm brand.
The goat herd had been destined for Queensland before TasFoods grabbed the opportunity to venture into the growing goat’s milk sector.
“Goat’s milk is a good alternative option to cow’s milk for those who cannot tolerate the latter,” TasFoods chief executive Jane Bennett said.
“There is a growing demand for the fresh milk in Australia, which has the highest incidence of food allergies in the world.
“There is also a growing market around the world for goat’s milk. That market will never be the size of cow’s milk market but the demand is there,” Ms Bennett said.
She said TasFoods wanted to educate people to change perceptions about goat’s milk and was looking at a national rollout of the milk later.
Some of the goat’s milk is being used in cheese, currently plain and marinated feta, but TasFoods is looking to branch out into other cheeses.
The company also plans to expand its goat herd and milk production by securing contract farmers as it does under its Nichols Chicken operation.
Ms Bennett said the goats moved to Sassafras because it took longer to get the milk to Launceston from Gunns Plains. TasFoods has refrigerated transport between Sassafras and Launceston several times a day.
“We need to process it quickly to keep it top quality to stop the milk losing its fresh taste or to stop it tasting like ‘billy goat’ as some people have described other goat milks.”
Tasfoods has taken over Nichols Poultry and Shima Wasabi, which produce chicken and Japanese condiments. Its stable also includes Meander Valley Dairy. The Port Sorell wasabi venture will expand to keep up with demand.
“This has been the craziest year of my life, but it is a good crazy,” Ms Bennett said.
FRESH MOVE: Manager of TasFoods’ goat venture Tracey Burford with some of the 500-head herd at Sassafras.