Raw milk all the rage

LAIRD HARPER
Last updated 10:09 12/12/2013
Co-owner of Bell Block Dolly's Milk operation Kevin Death enjoys some of his milk straight for the source.
ANDY JACKSON/Fairfax Media
UDDERLY FRESH: Co-owner of Bell Block Dolly's Milk operation Kevin Death enjoys some of his milk straight for the source.

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A milk revolution is bubbling up in Taranaki.

Touted as being a "powerhouse food", raw cow's milk keeps many vitamins, enzymes and probiotics often considered lost in the processing plant.

But it's not a concept lost on Dolly's Milk owners Peter and Margaret Dalziel, and Cindy and Kevin Death.

Hunting for something new, the group stumbled across the idea while flicking through a magazine.

And as they researched the rules and ways to safely distribute the product, they knew they had to get out in front of this fledgling industry.

Farmers can sell raw milk from their gate as long as they are certified, consumers are told the milk is unpasteurised and sales are limited to five litres.

But at Dolly's Milk, they wanted to go one step further.

Food safety concerns are driving restrictions as unpasteurised milk products can carry harmful bacteria.

So they set about building facilities in Bell Block and Stratford that would be clean, green and customer-focused.

The two couples are in favour of regulations putting the onus on farmers to prove the safety of their product.

The Ministry of Primary Industries is currently reviewing the law related to farmgate sales.

It is a process the group is fully engaged in.

Dalziel said with rigorous testing at both sites and good management and small herds, the risks were controlled.

"We also have a registered risk management programme," he said.

"We send samples to a lab in Auckland every week and test every day."

This way they offered convenient, hygienic raw milk, he said.

Dalziel said the idea spawned from a similar operation in the South Island, and after a bit of research they were hooked.

"Seeing a population base half the size of Stratford embrace the product was a key driver."

For Mr Death his farm at Mangatoki was too far from customers so he set up the one- stop-shop in Bell Block.

"We thought if it's going to work anywhere it's going to work there," he said.

Mrs Death said because they were fully tested they were drawing customers away from the underground raw milk market.

"There is a stigma with this type of milk that people have put out there," she said.

"We are not milking big herds and taking it out from the vat.

"We are managing it from start to finish."

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Only officially open for a few weeks, the Stratford-based facility had already developed a strong following.

And in Bell Block, customers from all around the world were lining up to get their fill at $2.40 a litre. "Every week there is a step up in the quantity we are selling," Mrs Death said. "It has only been through word of mouth so far.

"People are getting back to nature and they are loving the taste."

Dalziel said the facility itself was its own drawcard, offering customers a chance to see the milking shed and offering a quick 24/7 service.

Using cash or a loyalty card, customers use two vending machines to buy a litre glass bottle and then fill it. "We are finding that people of all ages are looking for less processed foods," Dalziel said.

Members of the Raw Milk Producers' Association of New Zealand, they believed they had cornered the market in Taranaki.

- Taranaki Daily News

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