Triggering a growth phase can be the biggest challenge faced by some companies. For Tasmanian dairy company Ashgrove Cheese, run by the Bennett families, the development of an innovative new product has been an important project to help drive this growth.
Based in Elizabeth Town, Ashgrove Cheese, has been operating since the 1880s. With around 1,500 dairy cows spread across 3,000 acres of grazing land, the farm is one of only a handful of Tasmanian dairy producers to hold an organic certification.
Marketing Manager, Anne Bennett is one of several family members helping to run the company and was tasked with looking for ways to tackle key challenges when producing dairy: commodity prices and cold-chain distribution.
“The dairy market is very competitive; we seek systems or market benefits to help build resilience against global swings in commodity prices for dairy,” Anne says. “Developing a new product with innovative features would allow us to set the price in the market, rather than just being price takers.”
Anne conducted extensive competitor research in the international market to learn more about innovative products and production methods. She discovered protein has emerged as a key macronutrient in snacking and nutrition choices around the world in recent years, so cheese was an ideal fit to help break into this category.
In 2014, Anne identified a technology which "pops" cheese into a crisp, air-dried snack. “This created a product which is more shelf-stable and requires no refrigeration, a really unique selling point for cheese,” Anne says.” It’s been a long journey to bring it to the market.”
Managing cold chain distribution is a daily challenge for dairy companies that distribute milk and cheese. Many solve this by converting milk into milk powder; however the scale required to make this cost-effective is very large. Development of an ambient cheese product which requires no refrigeration was an innovative solution to this problem.