Dairy industry lauds our brand
The Tasmanian brand is more significant for dairy producers than regional or company brands and should be used more widely, a Legislative Council inquiry has been told.
The inquiry also heard that lack of a certified logo or stamp to guarantee place of origin was holding back investment.
“Everyone knows Tasmania, the brand of Tasmania has more recognition globally,” Legerwood dairy farmer John Williams said.
Former Tasmanian Brand Council member, Kim Seagram, told the inquiry a powerful Tasmanian dairy brand could lead to new opportunities.
But the Managing Director of Tasmania Invest, Sarah Hirst, told a later hearing that she had two clients who wanted to invest $800 million to process milk sourced from Tasmanian dairy farms.
She said they were being held back by the lack of a certified Tasmanian dairy brand.
"We don’t have a logo or a stamp that guarantees [the product is] Tasmanian,” Ms Hirst said.
Tasmania Invest has asked for State funding to develop a certification scheme for Tasmanian products, similar to 100% Pure NZ.
“The scheme would be self funding," Ms Hirst said. "Producers have indicated they would be willing to pay”.
The Executive Director of Brand Tasmania, Robert Heazlewood, said: “It’s a good thing and it should happen, but the truth is it’s already under consideration. We are already researching the value and cost benefit of a Tasmanian trademark and a certified mark.”
He said Brand Tasmania had been speaking with copyright and trademark lawyers for more than a year. It would take another year to introduce certification if it was approved.
The Chairman of the committee, Western Tiers MLC Greg Hall said Ms Hirst’s submission had been impressive.
“A clean, sustainable brand [for Tasmania] has some merit,” Mr Hall said.
The inquiry heard discussion about regional brands, such as Duck River, and their effectiveness in international markets.
“The Tasmanian brand as a whole is much more significant than these regional ones,” Andrew Lester of the Tasmanian Farmers and Graziers Association said.
The dairy inquiry held public hearings in Launceston and Burnie during February and March and is due to hand down its findings in May.
Meanwhile, Moon Lake Investments has announced that it is converting four dairies in north-west Tasmania to organic production, while embattled exporter Bellamy's Organics confirmed that it aspires to source organically produced milk in the State.
Moon Lake Investments' Managing Director, Sean Shwe, told a forum of the Australia China Business Council in Hobart in February that his company had two key new projects earmarked for this year.
“We have initiated conversion of four of our farms into organic farms. We have started this organic journey and, from March or April, we will start extracting milk using organic methods,” Mr Shwe said.
Moon Lake bought Australia's biggest dairy business, Van Diemen’s Land Company, last year.
It operates 25 dairy farms on and around Woolnorth in the State's extreme north-west.
The company's second project involves three farms being developed to produce the nation's highest-quality milk with the lowest somatic cell counts [a measure of the likelihood of bacterial infection].
“This project is expected to be completed by mid-year,” Mr Shwe said.
In October, Van Diemen’s Land Company unveiled Van Milk which will fly fresh milk to China in partnership with Qantas.
After processing in Hobart, the milk will be on Chinese supermarket shelves the day after it leaves Tasmania.
“So far on our subscription model, we have pre-sold about $3.8 million of Van fresh milk,” Mr Shwe said.
Tasmanian organic milk production appears to remain a goal for baby formula exporter Bellamy’s Australia Ltd.
Before he was deposed in a board upheaval in late February, foundation Chairman, Rob Woolley, said the company hoped to renew efforts towards Tasmanian organic production in the second half of 2017.
In its present form, Bellamy's is not a producer. It imports milk products or buys them in Victoria and uses contractors for its packaging.
Mr Woolley said Bellamy's Asian customers were not yet as focussed on the organic concept as Australians were.
Tasmania's Brand Ambassador, Tetsuya Wakuda, has described Tasmanian products as being "beyond organic".
Image courtesy of The Examiner.
9 March 2017, Edition 181