Organic dairy farm runs factory in a container

Mary Vosper is producing organic milk from a mini-factory inside a shipping container on her family's Matamata farm.
Peter Drury

Mary Vosper is producing organic milk from a mini-factory inside a shipping container on her family's Matamata farm.

A Matamata dairy farming family is running its own factory in a shipping container. 

The Vosper family's company, Jersey Girl Organics, opened the mini factory three months ago and sells the milk directly to the customer.

Jersey Girl sells milk through specialist stores, farmer markets, and custom vending machines in Matamata (in the main street), Tauranga (at Gate Pa) and Mt Maunganui. 

Mary Vosper inside the container factory.
Peter Drury

Mary Vosper inside the container factory.

"If anyone wants to see the cows that make the milk, they can just come out to the farm," said Mary Vosper, who works full time pasteurising the milk, bottling it, transporting it and selling it.

The Hinuera Rd farm is home to a small jersey herd, the Vosper family, a milking shed and the container factory.

Owners include Mary, her brother John Vosper, sister-in-law Liz Mackay, and John and Liz's son Michael Vosper.

Every step of producing Jersey Girl milk is done on the farm, owned by Mary and John's parents.

The idea came about when the family was trying to think of ways to get around the low payout for organic milk products. 

John knew someone in Feilding who came up with the idea of a factory in a container, and the family had already heard of raw milk sellers who used vending machines at the farm gate.

So they took the ideas and blended them to create a small commercial operation.

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Jersey Girl milk is heat-treated to Ministry for Primary Industry standards for retail sale, but is not homogenised.

Some of it is bottled in the container factory in plastic bottles, which are sold in stores, and also at farmer markets in Te Rapa and Tauranga.

The family also milks the 250 jersey cow herd. "They've all got names," said Mary .

The farm still has a contract with Fonterra, so can only use 20 per cent of the farm's daily production for Jersey Girl.

"At the moment, that's no problem, because we're small."

Mary said about half the milk is sold at markets and the rest in retail and vending machines.

The vending machines stock the classic glass bottle, or customers can fill "any empty, clean bottle" from the machine. 

Milk costs $2.50 a litre from the vending machines, which can be used at any time of day. 

While the margins on each litre are bigger than what dairy companies pay, it will be a while before Jersey Girl breaks even. Each of the three vending machines was imported from Italy and cost about $40,000 each.

 - Stuff


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