Words and photos by: Karen Trebilcock

Danone’s farmer suppliers use an app to give them instant access to data on their milk quality.

Launched by the Paris-based food and drink giant a year ago, it is specifically for the suppliers to its spraydrying plant near Balclutha in Otago.

The data available includes total volume of each pickup, temperature on arrival, and the somatic cell count, as well as fat and protein.

“The app gives farmers visibility of their milk quality and allows them to make changes based on real-time results to ensure they are providing the highest quality milk,” a spokesperson said.

“For example, if a particular batch of milk had lower than usual fat or protein, the farmer would be able to see this immediately after our testing is complete, and as a result alter their practices to improve their next batch.”

The app also includes a chat tool that connects the plant’s milk manager with farmers. Danone’s focus is on milk quality and it is constantly working with its farmers for improvement.

The Balclutha plant, at Clydevale, produces powder for the base of Danone’s infant milk formula brands Aptamil and Karicare, which are supplied to the New Zealand, Australia, Malaysia, Thailand, Hong Kong and Chinese markets.

The 20 farms that supply it are mostly in the Clydevale area but are also as far away as Gore. They include 14 farms, mostly run by 50:50 sharemilkers, owned by Grant Paterson of Dunedin.

Danone bought the Balclutha spray drying plant, built in 2012, and its Auckland Airport Oaks blending, packing and canning facilities in 2014 from Gardians – a partnership between Paterson and the Sutton Group.