Milk companies are scrambling to fill a hole in the market created by the imminent closure of Murray Goulburn's Kiewa, Vic, factory.
Wagga, NSW, based Riverina Fresh is looking to replicate Albury-Wodonga’s beloved Kiewa Iced Coffee, while Warrnambool Cheese and Butter is opening up new markets in northern Victorian.
Riverina Fresh's Wagga sourced and bottled milk will seize the border’s market when Coon’s Dairy broadens its distribution at the end of July.
Riverina Fresh chief executive Rob Collier said the company’s similar-tasting drink would not leave a bitter taste in the mouths’ of consumers.
“They are confident they can replicate it,” he said.
“We've already done one lot and it is probably 90 per cent there with more tweaks in the next week or so.
“We've got two iced coffees in our range presently and they are popular in the Riverina.
“We will call it whatever we are allowed to call it that tells people it is very similar in taste.”
The popularity of Riverina Fresh has reportedly “exploded” since the viral local milk movement of 2016.
Riverina grocery outlets reported up to a 40 per cent increase in sales.
Coon’s Dairy will transition to supplying 100 per cent Riverina Fresh milk to Woolworths supermarkets.
“When I was faced with the decision of sourcing a new milk, my main focus was to find a like-for-like product range that is produced as locally as possible,” owner Linda Coon said.
It follows the closure of Kiewa’s Murray Goulburn plant – set to produce its final carton at the end of the month.
More than 130 employees will be out of work as a result of the decision.
“It’s also great that the guys at Riverina Fresh are working towards giving our customers the same iced coffee taste the locals love," Ms Coon said.
Meanwhile, Allansford, Vic, based Warrnambool Cheese and Butter's Sungold brand milk products will replace Kiewa Country Milk in Wodonga and Albury Coles supermarkets.
It will also be distributed by seven northern Victorian firms in Wangaratta, Myrtleford, Echuca, Rochester, Numurkah, Nathalia and Mansfield.
Joe Galvan, a partner in Myrtleford distributor Alpine Dairy, said the rural links of Sungold, which was first made in 1956, appealed.
“They’ve got all Victorian farmers and we had a look at their products and tasted them and we think Sungold will be the best for the area,” Mr Galvan said.
He said lack of agility made it hard to stay with Murray Goulburn which was centring output in Melbourne.
“It has to come from Melbourne and it only comes three days a week and the second issue is they will not make flavoured milk,” Mr Galvan said.
In a Facebook post, Wangaratta distributor Burgan Bros stated it had opted for Sungold because it “offers security for our local business, local employees, but more importantly, you our customer”.
Murray Goulburn did not reply when asked if it was irked to lose distributors.
In a statement confirming the end of production at Kiewa, a spokesman said: “We have informed our distributors and other relevant customers that Murray Goulburn can supply Devondale products at commercial rates from our Laverton facility.”
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