milk move

Tasmanian Country - - FRONT PAGE - HE­LEN KEMP­TON

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.

Pic­ture: CHRIS KIDD

FRESH MOVE: Man­ager of TasFoods’ goat ven­ture Tracey Bur­ford with some of the 500-head herd at Sas­safras.

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