FRESH local milk is being stocked in Central Queensland after a group of dairy farmers formed a cooperative to deliver their own brand.
Whitsunday Dairy Fresh and Central Queensland Dairy Fresh is hitting shelves between Bowen and Biggenden as farmers cut out the middle man.
CQ United Foods manager and Eungella dairy farmer Peter Woodlands said the Whitsunday brand, which used milk sourced from Mackay to Rockhampton, first hit shelves in the Mackay region about one month ago.
“It is a new business venture and we’re a paddock to plate business,” Mr Woodland said.
“It is a group of dairy farmers in Central Queensland that is putting a local product into each of its supply areas for local growers to supply the local market.”
Mr Woodland, who milks about 150 head on his property Hazelwood View, said the group was determined to secure their own future in the dairy industry.
“I think that there's a fair percentage of people who also realise if you don't have any industry in the area you don't have any jobs for the kids,” he said.
”We’re about putting the local brand into the local area and use the milk from local producers to do it.”
And demand is increasing, with Whitsunday Dairy Fresh now appearing in about 50 different retail outlets between Bowen and Sarina.
”It’s been reasonably good, and we're slowly growing,” Mr Woodland said.
“We’re only ever going to be a niche producer, but we're certainly there to provide a local product for those who want to buy a local milk.”
Mr Woodland said he intended to bring more Central Queensland farmers into the group as demand for the product grows.
Fourth-generation Biggenden dairy farmer Robbie Radel started delivering Central Queensland Dairy Fresh milk to outlets in the Childers region this week, and is already fielding inquires from areas further afield like Gladstone, Hervey Bay and Maryborough.
“We are not trying to compete with the dollar a litre, we’re trying to provide a sustainable price right across the board from the whole paddock to plate, so farmers get paid a fair price, the guys processing get a fair price, as do the wholesalers delivering and retailers make a profit,” Mr Radel said.
“It’s about $2 a litre in the shop, so it’s cheaper than water, or soft drink.
“At the end of the day it is a quality product and we’re not prepared to screw anyone into the ground, we’re about making sure everyone involved in the process makes a living.”
Mr Radel said profitibility for farmers on farm gate prices were up about 18 per cent on current supply agreements.