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SA organic dairy struggles to meet sky-rocketing demand

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The state’s largest organic dairy company is struggling to meet “sky-rocketing” demand as the consumer backlash against below-cost dairy products continues to prove a boon for local, branded milk.

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Ulli Spranz, of Adelaide Hills-based biodynamic organic dairy company B.-D. Farm Paris Creek, says a tripling of demand for the company’s products has come at a time when milk supply has dipped, due to a drier-than-usual autumn.

She said demand for the company’s milk, yogurt and cheese products had “sky-rocketed”.

“Due to what’s happened to the milk industry recently, our sales … have tripled,” Spranz told InDaily.

“That’s the best thing that can happen to a company and we’re extremely, extremely happy.

“It’s good to see that the consumers are so loyal – we feel very blessed to be here because that’s not [the situation] everywhere in Australia.”

However, the company has been forced to put notices on the milk fridges of SA supermarkets apologising to customers for a shortage of its products.

A B.-D. Farm Paris Creek note posted to a Blackwood supermarket fridge.

A B.-D. Farm Paris Creek note posted to a Blackwood supermarket fridge.

Spranz said organic dairy companies such as hers were unable to increase the supply of milk quickly enough to meet the demand, because it can take up to three years for a farmer to convert to certified organic.

“If the milk demand increases, we can’t just go down the road and ask if a dairy farmer can supply us,” she said.

“Every year we’re talking to farmers who are willing to convert [to organic].

“Currently, we’re working with a couple of farmers towards that.”

B.-D. Farm Paris Creek is supplied by nine farms between the Adelaide Hills and Meningie, to the south.

A lack of autumn rain in that part of the state has reduced the milk output, as cows have less grass to eat, said Spranz.

“Our cows are predominantly grass-fed – when there’s not much rain then the grass isn’t growing,” she said.

“The cows don’t give more milk just because we need more.”

Earlier this month, InDaily reported that The Fleurieu Milk Company had enjoyed a spike in its milk sales from 93,500 litres a week to 125,000 litres a week since the popular outcry began

Spranz said in South Australia most dairy producers knew each other well, and she was happy fellow producers were able to take advantage of the increased demand.

But she doesn’t have any kind words for dairy giants Murray Goulburn and Fonterra, whose decision to slash raw milk prices offered to farmers sparked the consumer backlash.

“I don’t know the words to say how disgusted I am by actions like that,” she said.

“It’s beyond my understanding what they did.”

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull this morning vowed to hold talks with Murray Goulburn, if re-elected at Saturday’s federal election, after the processor again cut its prices.

“If we are re-elected, what I will do is sit down with the management of Murray Goulburn and directors and go through these issues,” he told 2GB radio.

Independent Senator Jacqui Lambie has been urging the Government to impose a 50c levy on milk to support dairy farmers.

Spranz said her company launched a new milk brand – Adelaide Hills – in February, which stocks non-organic South Australian milk, produced mostly by farmers in the process of becoming organic.

“We have set up another brand … so that they can sustain their farms until they become organic.

“That has picked up extremely well.”

She said the Adelaide Hills brand was expected to begin exporting products to China by the start of next year.

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