By Sheryl Haitana

Organic Dairy Hub is now in a position to recruit new suppliers next year with strong interest growing in their new A3 milk powder products.

The co-operative wanted to first maximise the value of existing milk supply before taking on new supply, ODH chief executive Clay Fulcher says.

“We are now at the point where customers are wanting more and we can pull the trigger.”

ODH launched its A3 trademark brand early in 2021; A3 is A2 Beta-casein cow’s milk certified under the United States’ USDA organic standard.

Later in the year the cooperative introduced A3 whole milk and skim milk powders, including lactose-free whole and skim milk powder.

“The products are getting a lot of attention.”

The cooperative’s Ours Truly brand has multiple certification labels on it that make it a premium choice for customers domestically and globally, including food service; A3, (organic certified and A2), non-GMO and grass-fed.

Premium products like this are only growing with people around the world taking more interest in the nutritional benefits of their food and how it is produced, Clay says.

While the jury may still be out on the nutritional benefits of A2 milk, it’s a trend that is highly in demand and where Clay sees all dairy herds in NZ ending up.

ODH currently has 28 farmer suppliers in the North Island producing about 20 million litres of milk.

About half of the suppliers are already supplying A2 milk, with the remaining farmers breeding their herds in that direction. ODH is helping its suppliers transition to A2 milk, and is also interested in helping new suppliers with their transition to becoming certified, Clay says.

For farmers interested in switching suppliers, or becoming organic, ODH has a very accessible share structure and great knowledge and experience within the Hub to assist anyone new to organics to get them on the journey and support them through that process. The farms are also working on a collective A2 breeding programme, Clay says.

ODH processes about a quarter of its suppliers’ milk into their own branded products under the Ours Truly range and sells the rest to partnerships they have with companies including Waiu Dairy Company, Lewis Road Creamery and the Wellington Chocolate Factory. They also fly fresh milk to China weekly.

The recent launch of Ours Truly Organic Lactose Free powder products has seen huge enquiry domestically and offshore that is driving demand for ODH milk and the need to increase its milk pool.

Ours Truly milk, cheese and other dairy products are also available for New Zealanders to buy online and get delivered to their door in certain areas within NZ, and are carried by a growing list of retailers and cafes.

“One of the huge things for our farmers is having their product in a bottle that their family or friends can buy.”

Being able to offer the brand door-to-door has been a great way to launch and get their name out there, especially during Covid 19, and being able to make it more accessible in retail stores is the next stepping stone, Clay says.