A NEW cheese brand will available on SA shelves from today, with the proceeds to go back into helping support the local dairy industry.
SADA Fresh is adding three cheese varieties - cheddar, gouda and colby - to its already existing low fat and full-cream milk range, available at Coles supermarkets.
But unlike the milk brands, which were first launched in 2013 and pay back a 10 cent a litre standard fee into the SA Dairy Industry Fund to support local dairy products - the cheese lines will be completely managed by the SA Dairyfarmer's Association, with all profits to return to industry.
SADA president John Hunt said the new product was a great example coming from the South Australian Dairy Industry Action Plan, itself a beneficiary of the industry fund and launched in April 2019 with a whole of supply chain summit held last October.
He said the success of the brand was the result of the great relationships being formed.
SADA project officer John Elferink said the milk from SA dairyfarmers would go to SA processor Beston Global Foods for value adding. with the cheese bought by SADA, packaged by local company PakFresh SA with SADA then organising for it to be on the shelves at Coles supermarkets across SA.
Mr Elferink said the idea to add cheese to the SADA Fresh line was something that had been considered for some time - the artwork design has been in place for year - but they were waiting for the right moment.
He said a major spur was the roll out of the SA Dairy Industry Action Plan, which had helped build key relationships across the supply chain, at which point they were also able to negotiate with Coles to have the shelf space available.
Mr Elferink said working this way gave them insight into the processes and potential issues involved throughout the entire chain.
"We can now say we know, because we're involved," he said.
"We've built relationships in the past year that are the envy of other jurisdictions."
With the cheese launching, Mr Hunt said it was exciting to be involved in the end product that will go out to consumers.
"As dairyfarmers we're often head down on the farm doing our jobs, which is growing grass and milking cows," he said.
We're very keen to work with SADA to get more milk in the system.
"It's great to know I'm feeding my cows to put milk in the factory to go into this cheese, which then helps dairyfarmers.
"To see the people around our industry go to such big lengths to support what we do is terrific."
Mr Hunt said the partnerships, which were employing people throughout the sector, also helped ensure local dairyfarmers were paid a good price by the cheese manufacturer, in this case Bestons.
"For this cheese product, Beston pays $7.20 a kilogram milk solids to SA farmers, which is above the long-term average for this type of product," he said.
Primary Industries and Regional Development Minister David Basham, was involved in the SADA Fresh brand almost from inception as the former SADA president, right down to signing off on the labelling.
He present at the launch of the new cheese lines, saying it was a "proud moment".
"The dairy industry is an important part of the state's agricultural industry and it's fantastic to see if looking forward to the future," he said.
"One of the key aims of the SA Dairy Industry Action Plan is for the state to be globally recognised as one of the safest and greatest places to obtain dairy products and this will add to this premium reputation we are building - both locally and internationally."
It's great to know I'm feeding my cows to put milk in the factory to go into this cheese, which then helps dairyfarmers.
For Coles head of Store Operations SA/NT Neil Borrington, this was a great chance to stock a local brand on their shelves, joining another more than 80 dairy lines sourced from SA.
"We know our customers love to buy products made in SA," he said.
"Since launching SADA Fresh milk in our supermarkets seven years ago, it's become the most popular branded milk at Coles in SA and we think our customers will also really love SADA Fresh's cheese."
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Mr Elferink said sales of the milk had continued strongly in recent months, with strong customer trust in the brand.
While there has been a significant hit on sales in China, due to the COVID pandemic, he said there were also starting to be signs of recovery there as well.
"We were doing five tonnes a week and while we're not close to that, we are getting expressions of interest again," he said.
Mr Hunt said there were also plans to build on their export markets with the cheese brands, with work to begin on that from next year.
Beston chairman Roger Sexton said it was important to see the confidence in the dairy industry, with them taking one-third of the state's milk supply and plans to double their demand in the future as their lactoferrin investment grows.
"We're very keen to work with SADA to get more milk in the system," he said.
There are already signs of growth in the state's milk pool, with Dairy Australia production data showing SA's production is already up 5.3 per cent for 2020-21, compared to the same period in 2019-20, including a 6.3pc increase in August.
This follows on from increases throughout the entire 2020 calendar year, even as the state finished 2019-20 down 1.7pc on the previous year.
Mr Hunt said while the season did play a major part in the lift in milk production, he said another aspect was improved confidence in the industry.
He said three-year contracts gave dairyfarmers the ability to make longer term plans, while out of the summit, the state's processors had indicated they could absorb a further 200 million litres of milk.
"That's the processor's figures, and it gives the industry confidence, which is good because it's a great industry to be in," he said.
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