Make Mine Milk

Meet Maleny Dairies – Australia’s first carbon-positive dairy business
By Roger Fox

The Hopper family’s herd of Guernsey cows not only produces premium-quality milk, they’re part of Australia’s first dairy business to achieve carbon-positive status. As third-generation farmer Ross Hopper explains, it’s all part of his family’s broader vision.

“We’re as passionate about our environment as we are about our milk, which is why we took the bold step towards becoming a carbon-positive producer of high-quality milk by 2021. Not only do we believe this will protect the future generations of our family, but we are committed to looking after the environment for our customers and consumers, too.”

Farming for the future

Located in the lush pastures of south-eastern Queensland, the farm was established in 1948 with a herd of Guernsey cows, a British breed renowned for its premium-quality milk, containing high levels of protein and butterfat. And the Hopper family’s recent carbon-positive milestone is not the first time they have blazed their own trail through Australian agriculture. Back in 2000, when the milk industry was deregulated in Australia – and thousands of farmers left the industry – they decided to fight back by building their own processing and bottling plant. Today, Maleny Dairies sustains a thriving local industry of dairy farmers, who receive an above-average price for the milk they supply. In turn, this has enabled each farmer to keep their herds healthy and farms viable.

You’ll find the full Maleny Dairies product range, as well as a pour-your-own-milk facility, in Harris Farm Markets’ Queensland stores. NSW stores stock the brand’s Farmers Choice milk and cream products.

The road to carbon positive

For Maleny Dairies, achieving carbon-positive status has required them to go beyond a net-zero emissions target, and move into positive territory. To achieve this, they have focused on the dairy business – the processing, manufacturing and transport side of the enterprise – with energy efficiency goals achieved right across the board. This, they call ‘Stage One of their carbon-positive journey.’ It’s an involved and expensive process, requiring energy and environmental audits conducted through
Climate Active (a government-business partnership), as well as the purchase of additional carbon offsets to achieve the desired target.

But Ross believes it’s a case of grasping the nettle and leading the way.

“If we can demonstrate a business model that can still be profitable and absorb the massive costs of maintaining carbon-neutral status and carbon positive status, then others will follow,” he says. “We need the public to support us by buying our product.”

Maleny Dairies, he hopes, will be a brand name that is identified with helping the planet, helping their farmers, and providing a legacy the next generation can be proud of.

Things to know...

  1. Maleny Dairies produces a range of milks, yoghurts, custard and cream. One of their most popular products is the traditional Farmers Choice gold-top, a non-homogenised milk that offers a layer of cream on top.
  2. The milk of Guernsey cows is renowned for its high protein and butterfat content. It’s high in beta-carotene and also A2 protein, which many people find easier to digest. It also contains three times the amount of omega-3.
  3. The milk is not standardised and has no additives.

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