New co-op signs 20m litre-supply deal

Farming Together welcomes today’s news that Freedom Foods Group (ASX: FNP) and Mountain Milk Co-operative (pictured below) today announced they will work together to form a new supply arrangement for milk from north-east Victoria.

The state’s newest dairy co-op, which was formed earlier this year with $136,620 funding from Farming Together, will initially provide 20m litres/year to Freedom Foods’ plant in Shepparton, Victoria.

Farming Together program director Lorraine Gordon said: “This new deal builds on the strength of northern Victoria’s dairying tradition and carries that legacy forward into the future. “These Kiewa-region farmers are dedicated to their industry and their community and it has been a privilege to help them prepare for sector change. The Farming Together program aims to help farmers claim better margins and more say in their supply chain as well as building a stronger stake in the long-term sustainability of their enterprises,” she said.

Rory Macleod, the managing director and CEO of Freedom Foods said: “This is an inspiring partnership with huge potential and will provide Freedom Foods with premium milk from one of Australia’s most efficient and historic dairy regions. “Our agreement ensures Mountain Milk’s founding farmers achieve a fair and competitive farm gate price, strengthening their ability to continue to develop and invest in their businesses,” he said.

Freedom Foods, a diversified dairy and food producer with brands on supermarket shelves in Australia, Asia and the US, is the largest producer of UHT milk in Australia with plants in Shepparton and Sydney.

The Mountain Milk Co-operative was formed by four farm families, milking around 2400 cows in the Alpine Valleys region, with the goal of building a stronger, direct link with consumers. Its members are committed to the highest standard farming practices, the welfare of their animals, waterways, land and the people who work in their businesses.

“We are a true farming co-operative, fully-owned by our farmer members and we are fortunate to be farming in one of the highest quality dairy regions in Australia,” said Mountain Milk’s chairman, Stuart Crosthwaite. “We are aligned with the Freedom’s Foods vision to ‘Make Foods Better’ and believe our partnership is a great opportunity for Mountain Milk to demonstrate how milk from this beautiful region can contribute to the highest quality food outcomes for consumers,” he said.

Mr Macleod said the Kiewa Valley is recognised as a source of premium milk and milk products. “Mountain Milk is committed to bringing the best Australian dairy has to offer to consumers,” Mr Macleod said. “It is a great fit with Freedom Foods.”

Milk supplied to Freedom Foods under the partnership agreement could increase to 30m litres within six months, and further as production rises. The agreement is expected to take effect in mid-2018.

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