11 May 2015

Farmers confident about organic milk brand

11:21 am on 11 May 2015

Organic dairy farmers say they are confident a new brand of organic milk will be well received by New Zealand customers.

Fonterra has launched a new brand - Anchor Organic - which will be on the shelves later this month.

Farmers are cautiously optimistic about the new brand in light of what has been described as Fonterra's 'now we want you, now we don't, now we do' attitude towards its organic farmers in recent years.

Fonterra said the organic food and beverage market is worth $133 million and the amount of organic milk sold nationwide in the past year had increased by more than 50 percent.

Anchor Milk. Fonterra products

Fonterra is adding an organic product to its existing milk range. Photo: RNZ / Diego Opatowski

One of the suppliers, Mark Flip, based in the Manawatu, said he experienced turmoil with Fonterra after it scaled back its organic milk supply a few years ago, but he was confident the co-op was in it for the long run.

"I guess the customer demand will dictate that and I don't know, I just feed the cows and milk them, but they tell us that the demand is there and that it's increasing."

Another Manawatu organic milk supplier, Craig Maxwell, said he had told Fonterra for years it should expand its organic production.

"I think there were a few organic farmers who were a little bit sceptical, only because we said probably a couple of years ago 'you should be shouting from the rooftops and this organic system is actually working', but I think they weren't actually listening to us too much, but now I think they're actually starting to make things happen."

And for those curious about the taste difference between organic and conventional milk, Mr Maxwell said it was all about the fertiliser.

"It tastes a bit sweeter because of the fertiliser. Most of the conventional fertilisers are salt based and it sort of makes the grass a little bit sour which makes the milk a little bit sour, but organic fertiliser is sweeter, it makes use of the photosynthesis to make the grass taste sweeter, which makes the milk taste sweeter," Mr Maxwell said.

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