A family owned dairy based near Dubbo, in Central West NSW, has claimed the national title for its Less Cream Milk at the 2017 Australian Grand Dairy Awards.
Little Big Dairy Co’s (LBDC) milk, produced by the Chesworth family, was judged the best in Australia in the Specialty White Dairy Drink category.
The national awards are the pinnacle of dairy competitions in Australia with expert judges selecting the winning products from hundreds of gold medal entries.
LBDC is a single source dairy, meaning it packages its own dairy products and sells directly to consumers, rather than selling to a co-operative.
LBDC Director, Emma Elliott (nee Chesworth), believes the win is an incredible achievement.
“To be recognised in this way is so special for us,” she says. “We have worked extremely hard in the last few years to create a trusted, quality brand and to produce the best. We took a risk in going out on our own and this award means that risk has paid off – we are on the right track.
“It’s quite a humbling experience but I also feel we deserve it. We go the extra mile day after day, with a strong focus on the nutrition, health and comfort of ‘our girls’, with world class production facilities and having that overall control of seeing our products from our farm to the shelf.
“Being single source guarantees the integrity of our produce as we see the product right through the supply chain, we have traceability right down to the cow that produced it, we know them each by name.”
The dairy was originally established by the Chesworth family but transitioned to the single source model in 2013, in order to attain a fairer price for their milk and ensure the continued production of a high quality product.
The family of 8th generation farmers milk 800 cows three times a day and then bottle their own milk before distributing to surrounding areas.
The dairy also packages cream products and their double cream was one of three finalists in the cream category at AGDA 2017.
The Less Cream milk was judged the best in the country against 30 other products in its class.
AGDA Chief Judge Russell Smith believes Little Big Dairy Co is an excellent example of what smaller processors can achieve.
“They’ve won against a very, very strong class,” he says. “This was exactly how milk should be – carefully treated and handled, fresh as it gets, and sweet.
“They’ve got beautiful hygiene and attention to detail, everything has to be spotlessly clean or you start getting taints or the milk is agitated and isn’t quite as good as it could be.”
Mr Smith says the achievement is significant as the removal of fat means it can be more difficult to produce excellent milk.
“Texture is just as important as flavour, often more so, and light milk has a tendency to be a bit thin, so it’s more difficult to provide a great milk drinking experience but Little Big have managed to do that. They’ve produced a low fat milk with a really great mouth feel to it.”
Dubbo locals have long since recognised the exceptional taste and quality of Little Big Dairy Co products with cafe owner, Ben Cluff, unsurprised that LBDC has met with such success.
“Their Less Cream milk is the reason I originally went with Little Big,” he explains.
“It is essentially just the full cream milk with some of the cream skimmed from the top.”
Through sourcing his dairy products from Little Big Dairy, Mr Cluff has discovered that his clientele share his passion for quality, local products that ensure the farmer is paid a fair price.
Customers at his boutique cafe, the Black Tambourine, noticed the difference when he made the switch to LBDC.
“We wanted to distinguish ourself from other cafes by using a premium, local product,” Ben explains.
“People love the fact that they’re getting something that’s genuine and I make a point of showing people the difference in taste between Little Big and other brands.
“We consider ourselves coffee connoisseurs and I have to be able stand behind what we’re producing.
“Emma and her husband, Jim, are so deserving, it really is stand out stuff, we love it.”
Little Big Dairy Co is hoping to bring their message of fair milk pricing to urban areas and are currently looking for support from stockists in the Sydney area.
“We would love to see more urban cafes and supermarkets supporting brands that pay a fair price for milk,” Emma explains.
“Because a fair price is paid to Little Big Dairy Co the animal welfare, environmental standards and overall product quality are continually improved on our farm.”
This article was first published on Leading Agriculture.