Mackay and Rockhampton residents will soon receive home-delivered milk, as Queensland’s new farmer-owned co-operative extends its operations.
Fresh local milk is already sold by independent supermarkets and retail outlets from Bowen to Biggenden under the Whitsunday Dairy Fresh and Central Queensland Dairy Fresh labels, produced by the Port Curtis Milk Supplier’s Co-operative.
The new delivery business will see fresh milk delivered two to three times weekly. Co-op chair Peter Woodland said the group plans to expand the product offering for local produce deliveries such as bread and yogurt.
The 30-member co-op has been working on the home-delivery project since 2016 with Ben Wearmouth, CEO of the Mackay-Isaac-Whitsunday RDA. Last year it secured funding through the Australian Government’s Farming Together program to conduct market and customer research on home delivery.
Mr Woodland said the move to a farmer co-op was push-back against cheap supermarket milk and low farmgate margins.
“In 2016 we decided ‘enough was enough’ and with the support of the co-op members and board, we decided our future lay in taking control of the supply chain,” he said.
“We know that the future of Queensland’s milk industry requires more competition and more demand – ideally using fresh, local milk for foods such as cheese, butter and ice-cream. To do this, a single co-op is a good mechanism,” he added.
Mr Woodland said the co-op could also work with processors to value-add to the milk, or with exporters such as the infant formula/milk processing facility planned for Wellcamp near Toowoomba.
The co-op is also preparing a submission to the ACCC seeking approval for collective bargaining. Mr Woodland said: “We will form the single co-op in Queensland and, with the support of dairy farmers, enter into a new chapter for the state’s dairy industry.”