This month for our blog, we, at Picnic Street, sat down with one of our brands and household favourites, Gippsland Jersey.
Gippsland Jersey started when two struggling friends came together in support of their community and their livelihood in the face of adversity. Here is their brave story.
The beginning of Gippsland Jersey’s journey – both at a crossroad, but keen to honour their farming backgrounds, Steve and Sallie came together to combat how to produce exceptional milk sustainably while also supporting farmers who were struggling. Then Gippsland Jersey was born.
Your journey sure hasn’t been smooth sailing. How did you guys overcome your challenges?
“When we started Gippsland Jersey, it was all about the dairy milk price crisis and mental health of rural men. This then merged into the drought, which was followed by this summer’s bushfires – with the fire front 7km from Sallie’s family’s Lakes Entrance property which has the factory on it”.
Then, of course, came coronavirus. But perhaps unlike some people, Sallie and Steve are able to find opportunity in adversity. “A lot of life is about how you respond”, says Sallie who advocates for rural mental health after the death of her father by suicide in March 2016. “We can’t control what goes on around us, but we can control how we respond”.
This summer Sallie and Steve, who are family friends, were set to officially open their new processing factory on Sallie’s family farm in Lakes Entrance.
At the same time, two fire fronts threatened to wipe out the factory, which had cost $500,000 to build, including $110,000 from crowdfunding. “For two days we camped out in the factory in full firefighting gear, with hoses and generators, sprinklers on the top of the factory. The sky glowed red, it was so hot, the smell was strong, and we knew insurance wouldn’t rebuild it, if we lost it. We’ve worked so hard with a zero budget to get Sallie’s dad’s factory out of mothballs, we weren’t going to let it burn down”. Thankfully a wind change saved the factory.
In February, Gippsland Jersey then faced coronavirus, immediately losing about a quarter of milk sales through the closure of cafes and restaurants. They had to diversify quickly. “Becoming kosher certified allowed us to access a new network of people. Through social media posts we had a lot of demand for home delivered milk, we had to quickly figure out the logistics of how to do that”. Now Gippsland Jersey are delivering to thousands of home customers, through Melbourne, Gippsland and the Mornington Peninsula - looks like the ‘milkman’ is back in trend.
What is Jersey milk?
Jersey milk comes from Jersey cows which naturally produce the highest quality milk for human consumption.
Compared to average milk, a glass of Jersey milk has greater nutritional value with: 15% to 20% more protein; 15% to 18% more calcium; 10% to 12% more phosphorous; and also considerably higher levels of an essential vitamin, B12.
This nutrient-dense Jersey milk tastes better. The reason is there are more non-fat solids, protein, calcium and lactose compared to other breeds.
What makes Gippsland Jersey different to other dairy producers?
Gippsland Jersey does things differently by sourcing milk from smaller, more thoughtfully run dairies and paying farmers a fair price.
By sidestepping large milk processors and value-adding already amazing local milk, they ensure a healthy wage for farmers and a clear choice for consumers. By returning a portion of profits to the Gippsland farming community, they are supporting the mental and emotional wellbeing of dairy farmers who may be struggling.
They are very clear that the 'why' of their business is about following three pillars and it's these pillars that get them up every morning, drive their passion and bring meaning to their brand.
- Fairness - Farmers must be paid a fair price for their milk.
- Mental Health - Helping farmers share their stories and smash the stigma of mental health and suicide prevention in rural areas.
- Kindness - Performing random acts of kindness.
As the values they use to drive their food purchasing decisions increasingly shift toward supporting more meaningful brands, Gippsland Jersey is one company representing what it means to inspire change, and to do more than sell products.
What other ways are you trying to be more sustainable and why is this important for our future?
When it comes to innovation in the dairy industry, Sallie's perspective is that what's old is new again’, for example, bringing the fat back, enjoying unaltered food and getting back to the basics of butter, strong, delicious milk and good old-fashioned cream. “We don’t need to strip it out and fill it full of sugar or put it in fancy packaging. It’s about stripping all that away and going back to basics”. Paying farmers, a fair price will keep family farms sustainable and viable into the future.
Why do you think, especially during these unprecedented pandemic times, that community support is important?
“Consumers have all the power to create change! The fact that there is $1 a litre milk in the supermarket fridges is simply disrespectful to an industry that is on its knees. Now is the time to fight the injustice of cheap milk and to bring some respect back to farmers who work their butts off to ensure our country enjoys cheese, ice cream and milkshakes.
Wake up Australia! Do we want to drink fresh world class Aussie milk? Or are we happy to import inferior milk from overseas? Because that’s what will happen if things don’t change ASAP. When you make your milk choice, don’t just go with the cheapest option. Read the small print and not to be tricked by clever, big budget, marketing ploys that have farmers’ faces on the label. Research who owns that milk brand and which country it’s profiting. You as consumers in Australia have all the power, you can create change on behalf of Australian dairy farmers”.
Are there any new projects or products on the horizon for Gippsland Jersey?
There is an endless list of dreams and ‘to-do’ lists at Gippsland Jersey. “We’d love new product lines and a desire to sell more milk so we can bring on more farmers to supply milk, so that they too can be paid a fair price for what they produce.”
We at Picnic Street are proud to support Australian made and owned brands like Gippsland Jersey.
The good news is you too can support this Aussie brand, by purchasing their milk and cream we have on offer through Picnic Street. With 24-hour service, get it delivered to your door, today!