Fund seeks game-changing projects to soften tough times

• Up to $150,000 in available funding announced today
• Aiming to generate projects worth almost $0.5 million through co-funding

A surprise cut in the farm-gate milk price paid by Australia’s largest dairy processor has given fresh imperative to the need for innovative ideas to boost the long-term viability of local farmers, according to SA Dairy Industry Fund chair Dennis Mutton. Mr Mutton was speaking ahead of a gathering of leaders from industry, government, economic and regional development agencies and the research sector in Adelaide on May 3, celebrating a call for the next round of projects.
Making the announcement, Fund chair Dennis Mutton said the unexpected price cut by Murray Goulburn last week was sobering news that made the work of the Fund even more critical.
“We know there are no easy, short-term solutions that will overcome the immediate situation, but it is vital that we find ways to moderate the impact of fluctuating global commodity markets and low domestic fresh milk prices on South Australian dairy farmers and their communities,” Mr Mutton said.
“We need people to come forward with projects that are genuine game-changers, that will shake things up and offer real potential to improve the long-term viability of the industry. From the processing and marketing side, we are interested in more dairy food manufacturers producing more premium products and opening up high-value domestic and export markets that will in turn lead to higher and more stable farm-gate prices, as well as a stronger processing sector. On the production side, we are looking for projects that will improve the profitability of our farmers by identifying smart ways to reduce costs, lift production, soften the impact of dry seasons, and even diversify their enterprise to open up additional sources of revenue.”
A total of up to $150,000 is available, leveraging proceeds raised from the sale of SADA Fresh milk. Based on outcomes from the first round in 2015, Mr Mutton believes that level of investment has the potential to generate projects worth almost half a million dollars. “The key to unlocking that potential is co-funding and actively working behind the scenes with the entire supply chain, from paddock to plate, to establish partnerships that give us real value for money,” he said. “The Fund’s role as a significant strategic player and financial contributor is to encourage those partnerships and drive change.”
SA Dairyfarmers Association president David Basham said falling farm-gate prices and the tough seasonal conditions being experienced by local farmers reinforced the strategic thinking behind SADA’s ground-breaking initiative to create its own milk brand and established the Fund. “It is absolutely vital that our farmers are not left in a position where they have to rely on commodity prices for low-value products that are highly susceptible to global markets,” Mr Basham said.
“We need higher demand and greater competition for milk in SA so that processors have to pay more to source it, and we need more premium products and markets, so the processors are in a position to do so. In the past twelve months, there have been a number of significant developments, with new investments in processing being made by Beston Global Foods at Murray Bridge, and the Midfield Group and Blue Lake Dairies in the Limestone Coast region. The reality is that it will take time for farmers to see the benefits from those developments, but at least we are now heading in the right direction, instead of dealing with a stagnating processing sector in SA, which was the case the last time farmers were trying to cope with low prices,” Mr Basham said.
“SADA Fresh gives us access to money that is helping to drive that change, and it also gives consumers a very tangible way to support struggling farmers at a time when they need it most. By pooling the proceeds from just 40 cents per container sold at Coles supermarkets, we have created a significant resource that wasn’t there before. We have also demonstrated in a very powerful way that the industry in South Australia is innovative and pro-active, and a major player in the State’s economic future.”
Applicants have until June 10 2016 to submit concept proposals to the Fund. The Fund Board will assess the applications and finalise a short list in early July. Short-listed projects will then be invited to submit more detailed information before funding allocations are decided in August.

SA consumers make milk a success for local dairy farmers


When it comes to showing support for South Australian dairy farmers, no-one beats shoppers at St Agnes. People buying groceries in the north-eastern Adelaide suburb have topped a list of 50 locations across the State for buying SADA Fresh since it was launched two years ago today.

Total sales of the milk across the State topped 2 million litres in August, with total sales at the Coles supermarket in St Agnes this month reaching almost 140,000 litres. Mount Barker in the Adelaide Hills ranked second highest, with sales totalling about 100,000, followed close behind by Burnside Village, then Bridgewater, Gawler, McLaren Vale, West Lakes, Mount Gambier, Blackwood and Victor Harbor.

“We cannot thank people enough for the overwhelming support they have shown our farmers since the milk first hit the shelves,” said SADA President David Basham. “We were the first dairy industry association in Australia to launch its own milk brand and obviously there was a chance that it might not work, but total sales are expected to reach around 2.3 million litres by the end of this month, which is extraordinary. During what is proving to be a very challenging time for dairy farmers in many parts of the world because of low commodity prices, it is making a genuine difference to the viability of our industry so that people will continue to have access to fresh, high-quality local produce.”

SADA Fresh is processed and packaged in Adelaide under a special licensing agreement with Parmalat, who pay SADA 20 cents for every litre sold exclusively through Coles supermarkets at 50 locations across the State. “We are so happy to see customers embrace our partnership with the South Australian Dairyfarmers’ Association by buying milk which directly benefits the dairy industry,” said Coles State General Manager Neil Lake. “We know our customers like to buy locally-produced milk and it’s great to see the community’s support for this unique initiative.”


SA Dairy Fund announces first projects

Two projects designed to help attract crucial outside investment in the State’s dairy industry are among the first to be funded by proceeds from the sale of SADA Fresh. The new South Australian Dairy Industry Fund is providing a total of almost $60,000 to four projects this year in its first round of funding.

“This is a landmark day for the State’s dairy industry and its communities,” Fund chair Dennis Mutton said before announcing the recipients at a seminar in Mount Gambier today.

“The South Australian Dairyfarmers’ Association (SADA) attracted national attention when it took the innovative step of creating its own milk label just 18 months ago. Their vision was to take the initiative and raise money that could be harnessed to create a better future for dairy farmers who were struggling to survive because of some tough seasons, increasing costs and low prices for their milk.

“Thanks to that vision and the overwhelming support of South Australian consumers, we are now in a position to finance our first projects which we believe have the potential to make a genuine difference to the industry as a whole.”

Mr Mutton said an obvious starting point for the Fund was exploring ways to make the South Australian dairy industry more attractive to global and national investors.

“We need this investment to not only expand our farms and the number of cows being milked, but to build the processing sector and open up new markets for premium products, that will in turn offer farmers more security and lead to them being paid more for their milk,” he said.

“We know there is enormous investor interest generally in the Australian dairy industry, especially given the Free Trade Agreement with China and growing consumer demand in Asia. SADA Fresh has started exporting milk to China and the Midfield Group has announced plans to open a new processing plant near Penola, but we have some work to do if we want to turn more opportunities into reality here in South Australia,” he said. “Two of the projects we are supporting will give us some of the tools we need to unlock that potential.”

In the first project, the Fund is providing $17,600 to develop a document that will give investors key information about the industry in SA and what it has to offer. It is being prepared by leading Melbourne-based dairy industry analyst and adviser Stephen Spencer, with input from the South Australian Dairyfarmers Association, Primary Industries and Regions SA (PIRSA), the Dairy Authority of SA and DairySA.

“We need something we can put on the table upfront to help secure investors’ attention – a value proposition that takes their interest to the next level. This document will give them the initial information they need to see that it is worth taking a harder look,” Mr Mutton said.

The Fund is also providing up to $3300 towards the cost of staging today’s South East Dairy Investment Seminar, which is exploring alternative sources of finance to help dairy farmers expand their operations, and to increase their appeal to potential investors. The forum is being organised by PIRSA in association with SADA and the ANZ Bank.

Another $22,000 has been awarded to a project exploring the benefits of variable rate irrigation technology, which is already used in horticulture but yet to be taken up by South Australian dairy farmers. The project is being funded because of its significant potential to reduce water and energy use and improve production, benefiting both farmers and the environment. Due to be completed by December, it is being co-funded by DairySA, the SA Research and Development Institute (SARDI) and Natural Resources South East.

The final project is an intensive three-day program designed to improve the skills and resilience of young South Australian dairy farmers so they are better able to contribute to building successful farm businesses. Organised by DairySA, the project has been given $16,500 because of its potential to develop the next generation of farmers and help secure the future viability of the dairy industry in this State.


SADA Fresh lands in China

In an exciting breakthrough for South Australian dairy farmers, the first commercial export shipment of SADA Fresh milk is due to arrive in China this afternoon [Thursday, April 16].

The shipment of 1,872 one-litre bottles left Adelaide yesterday aboard a Cathay Pacific flight to Hong Kong. The milk was then loaded onto a subsidiary airline for delivery to Nanjing in central eastern China, where it is being marketed to local retail outlets by a Chinese importer.

SADA Fresh was launched 18 months ago by the South Australian Dairyfarmers’ Association (SADA) to help secure the future viability of the State’s dairy industry and its farmers.

“Using the milk brand to draw investment to South Australia and open up new markets for our dairy products were always primary goals of the enterprise, so this is a very exciting day for us,” says SADA President David Basham.

“After the initial run this week, the Chinese importer has committed to purchasing one air pallet of about 3960 bottles per week for the next three months, and there are expectations that will double after that, depending on the market’s response,” Mr Basham says.

“Despite all the headlines recently about Chinese interest in Australian dairy products, and the new Free Trade Agreement between Australia and China, the reality is that it is very difficult to crack this market and convert the talk into actual sales.

“Even though the initial shipment is relatively small, we hope this breakthrough will open doors for other South Australian dairy brands and lead to greater opportunities for us all in the future.”

Parmalat holds the licence to process, package and supply SADA Fresh wholesale in South Australia, where it is currently retailed exclusively through Coles. The milk destined for China is also being processed, packaged and exported by Parmalat, under a separate licensing agreement with SADA.

Mr Basham understands that about half the bottles in this week’s shipment will be distributed as part of a promotional exercise to launch the brand to Chinese customers and help build market share.

The milk will be retailed through conventional shops and supermarkets, as well as online grocery stores which are becoming increasingly popular in China, with consumers able to purchase two or more bottles at a time and even subscribe to receive weekly deliveries.

Mr Basham says this week’s shipment follows a series of small-scale trial shipments carried out over the past two months, and something like six months of planning and negotiation.

“The opportunity came about last October when Austrade (the Australian Trade Commission) held a food expo in Melbourne. Among potential export buyers attending the event was a Chinese importer looking for companies that could supply fresh milk, and I just happened to be in Melbourne at the time so I met with them,” he says.

“The association helped set up meetings with Parmalat who negotiated a formal contract with the Chinese buyer last month. In the meantime, trials were organised to fine-tune delivery and distribution protocols, and to make sure the milk meets stringent Chinese quarantine regulations and quality control specifications.

“It’s been a far from straight forward process that has also involved developing a new label, not just to incorporate Chinese characters, but to feature blue rather than the brand’s usual red or yellow, to meet a request from the importer.”

Under the agreement, Parmalat pays SADA 20 cents for every litre of milk sold in South Australian supermarkets, with the proceeds going into a new South Australian Dairy Industry Fund. SADA will also receive 5 cents per litre for the milk sold in China.

New dairy fund announces first call for projects

The new South Australian Dairy Industry Fund today (Wednesday, December 10) announced its first call for applications from projects that will benefit the State’s dairy industry.
Applicants have until February 16 2015 to submit concept proposals to the fund, which has been established with proceeds from the sale of SADA Fresh.
“We are greatly looking forward to receiving innovative proposals that offer some exciting opportunities to reinvigorate an industry that’s been vitally important to the State and its economy for generations,” said Fund chair Dennis Mutton.
“Our overarching purpose is to finance projects that directly benefit the South Australian dairy industry and its communities. We are interested in concepts that will improve the productivity, performance, business growth and diversity of the industry,” Mr Mutton said.
“We are particularly keen to receive applications that focus on supporting and encouraging local investment and value-adding, both in terms of new products and opening up new markets here in Australia and overseas. Projects that improve the capacity and resilience of dairy communities to manage change and volatility are also of interest.”
Mr Mutton said the fund board was open to receiving proposals from diverse sectors with a keen interest in adding value to the industry, including research and extension organisations, individuals, private companies, dairy processors and boutique manufacturers, farmer and community groups.
In the first stage of the process, applicants are being asked to provide a brief outline of their concept as an expression of interest. The Fund Board will assess the applications and finalise a short list in early March 2015. Short-listed projects will then be invited to submit more detailed information before funding allocations are decided and announced in April 2015.
The fund will accept proposals for projects seeking up to $20,000 each. The amount available to individual projects is likely to increase in future calls, as revenues from the sale of SADA Fresh accumulate.

Mutton to chair new industry fund

SA dairy industry fund chair Dennis MuttonA well known figure in South Australian agriculture with vast experience in the research and development sector has been appointed inaugural chair of the new fund being established to help secure the future viability of the State’s dairy industry. Mr Dennis Mutton (pictured left) will lead a small board selected for its specialist expertise to manage profits generated by the sale of SADA Fresh.

Announcing the appointment today, SADA President David Basham said the organisation was extremely pleased Mr Mutton had agreed to take on chairing the fund during its crucial set-up phase. A former chief executive of South Australia’s primary industries department, Mr Mutton is Chair of the CRC for High Integrity Australian Pork and BioInnovation SA, and a member of the Premier’s Science and Industry Council.

“We could not think of a better person to lead it, and we feel very honoured that he has offered to waive sitting fees as part of his contribution to what he sees as an exciting and ground-breaking initiative,” Mr Basham said.

Mr Mutton said he agreed to become involved with the fund because he was impressed by the concept and its potential to make a genuine difference to the South Australian dairy industry. “This is an industry association showing significant initiative and leadership. SADA Fresh provides the opportunity to demonstrate that by working collectively farmers can secure a more viable future. They are not sitting back and saying ‘woe is us’; they are doing something pro-active to generate opportunities and a return on investment,” he said.

Mr Mutton’s brief is to make sure the fund is invested in a way that maximises returns to the local dairy industry. Over the coming months this will involve helping to develop clear guidelines and protocols for the allocation process, including identifying research and development priorities, and criteria for selecting projects.

SADA’s intends to appoint other board members over the coming weeks. Legal and financial arrangements for the fund will be formalised by the start of the new financial year, with enough money likely to be in hand to call for project applications before the brand celebrates its first anniversary.

SADA Fresh success six months on

More than 270,000 containers of SADA Fresh milk have been sold since the brand was launched six months ago, making it one of the State’s top selling milk brands.

Praising the support shown by South Australian consumers, South Australian Dairyfarmers’ Association president David Basham says that even before allocations to industry projects begin, the brand is making a genuine difference to local farmers and their industry.

“It has won the respect of agricultural leaders across Australia, as well as federal and state politicians and decision-makers, helping to give SADA greater influence and to open the doors on potential new markets for local dairy products. We are having conversations that just would not have been possible before. It’s also given our farmers a greater sense of pride in what they do and considerably more optimism about our future,” he says.

“And for that we have to thank the general public. South Australian consumers have warmly embraced the concept as a tangible way of supporting our farmers, and are buying SADA Fresh in quantities that exceeded our initial expectations.”

Toasting the success of SADA Fresh

Toasting the launch - low resDairy farmers and industry supporters gathered in the centre of Adelaide today to celebrate the official launch of SADA Fresh.

Special guest Agriculture Fisheries and Food Minister Gail Gago told the crowd that the SADA Fresh initiative aligned with the State’s Premium Food and Wine from our Clean Environment strategic priority, aimed at building the State’s brand and growing its capability. “SADA Fresh reflects what this priority is all about – the promotion of our premium quality and clean credentials and driving innovation to improve productivity and differentiate our product. We applaud SADA for this initiative,” Ms Gago said.

The Minister is pictured toasting the success of SADA Fresh with SADA president David Basham (left) and Coles Chief Operating Officer John Durkan.

The event attracted enormous media attention, with Sky News broadcasting the occasion live, and camera crews from every Adelaide-based television station, as well as print and radio journalists keen to cover the story. Visit our facebook page to see some of the coverage.




SADA Fresh to be launched today

South Australians can now show their support for the State’s dairy farmers in a very tangible way, thanks to a ground-breaking initiative announced today (Friday, October 25).

In what is an historic first for the Australian dairy industry, the South Australian Dairyfarmers’ Association (SADA) is launching its own brand of milk – SADA Fresh.

The milk will be processed and packaged under a special licensing agreement by dairy foods company Parmalat at its Clarence Gardens facility and sold exclusively through Coles supermarkets across the State.

Forty cents of the proceeds from every two-litre container sold will go to a new fund to finance projects that will help secure the future viability of the South Australian dairy industry, benefiting local farmers and their communities.

SA Minister for Agriculture Food and Fisheries Gail Gago, Coles Chief Operating Officer John Durkan and SADA President David Basham will come together at the new Coles supermarket in Rundle Mall this morning to celebrate the launch.