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PacificEdge | March 25, 2017

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Made By Cow — authentically raw?

Made By Cow — authentically raw?
Russ Grayson

A FREE bottle of milk arrived with our groceries from our organic home delivery service the other day. It was no ordinary milk, though. It was raw. ‘Cold Pressed Raw Milk’, said the label. But was it? That is the question being asked by raw milk advocates who prefer their milk straight from the cow.

Our organic home delivery service offers free goods from time to time — it was a box of veges a couple weeks ago. The free bottle of Made By Cow brand milk was a bonus. It led me into a brief Facebook conversation with those questioning the authenticity of its ‘raw’ status.

The challenge

Most of us probably know that the sale of unprocessed raw milk is illegal due to the potential for pathogens to be passed on to humans. Pasteurisation is the process used to heat milk to kill any pathogens that might be in it.

Raw milk is unpasteurised and is sold as a cosmetic application. This is the way raw milk drinkers have been able to circumvent the law. For them, it is the right to choose what they eat that matters and most, thought not all, have been drinking the raw product without mishap. The sale and consumption of raw milk is legal in some other countries.

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The tech

I had been aware that Made By Cow’s new product was not unprocessed raw milk when I first heard of it. It is milk processed through pressurisation rather than pasteurisation. That is, it is not heated and homogenised as is conventional milk.

The NSW Food Authority-approved milk is produced by farmer, Saxon Joye’s herd of Jersey cattle near Berry on the NSW South Coast. The product demonstrates how technology can offer a way around problems, such as the risk associated with drinking unprocessed raw milk and the controversy around freedom of choice of food, and open new markets for farmers.

The technology is a patented cold-pressing process that deactivates bacteria in the milk.

“After sealing the bottles, they’re placed under extreme cold water pressure via a patented, world first, cold pressing technique that is equivalent to taking the milk six times deeper than the deepest part of the ocean. This eliminates any harmful bacteria, whilst being gentler on milk’s nutrients… “, the company’s website states.

It will be interesting to see if Made By Cow licences their patented technology to other milk producers. Currently, patenting gives them a monopoly in the legal raw milk market, that approved for human consumption, that is.

I emailed Made By Cow to ask whether the company plans to licence its patented cold-press process to other milk producers. Saxon Joye got back:

Hi Russ,

Thanks for getting in touch.

We are only 2 months into launch so it’s been a little hectic, all I can tell you at this stage is we are starting to consider a number of different models, including licencing our cold pressing system, but we still have a bit of work to do. I hope that helps.

Regards,
Saxon Joye

If the company does this it would derive income from licencing fees and allow other milk processors to supply the milk.The other option would be to go for company growth as a milk producer and distribute Made By Cow milk throughout the eastern states or even nationally.

A correspondent writing on the topic in a social media post was critical of this possibility. With Made By Cow the only supplier, sales would have the potential to cut into milk sourced from local dairy farms and processed by regional milk producers. The potential for this would be influenced by how Made By Cow positions its product in the marketplace as well as by price. A 750ml plastic bottle of Made By Cow currently retails at a little under AU$5.00. Compare that with between AU$2.15 a litre for Dairy Farmers brand conventional milk at Coles supermarkets and $1 a litre for Coles’ house brand, the latter controversial because it economically disadvantages dairy farmers.

The question of authenticity

Following the release of Made By Cow’s new product was the claim on social media that it is not authentically raw because it undergoes pressure processing. Only milk bottled straight from the animal can claim to be raw, seems to be how the argument goes. The argument is made by people who may already consume unprocessed raw milk or those advocating it.

An article in the Weekly Times quoted the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission saying, “We understand the concerns raised. However, any concerns­ over the label are mitigated to an extent by the prominent reference to ‘cold-pressed’, identifying that the product has received some processing,” she said.

The wording on the bottle makes this clear. It is reiterated on the back of the bottle where the only ingredient listed is ‘cold pressed jersey milk’.

Nobody is questioning the quality of the product. The argument has become one of implied meaning — is this milk authentically raw or is the label on the front of the bottle misleading because it is cold-pressed?

The local food side

There is another side to the new product. It is about market segments and it is bound up with whether Made By Cow distributes their milk nationally. The question is raised by advocates and buyers of local food — food produced within proximity to where it is consumed. The market for local food has grown over recent years and there are now home delivery services supplying local foods, like Ooooby in Sydney, CERES Fair Food in Melbourne and Brisbane Food Connect.

Local food advocates in Sydney will recognise that the Berry area, where the dairy farm producing the milk is located, places it within the Sydney food bowl catchment and that this qualifies it as ‘local food’. It is a potential selling point, however it would not apply to milk distributed further afield in NSW or interstate. This, too, has been raised on social media.

Taste and market

So, we have a new product and we have a bit of a controversy over the authenticity of its claims to being raw, but what does the stuff taste like? I opened our free bottle of Made By Cow to find out. It was creamy, quite a different taste to low-fat milks.

And on low-fat milks, I should point out that if you are on a fat or cholesterol-reducing diet then this is not the product for you. The bottle’s nutritional information label lists at 5.1g/100mL the total fats content, 3.4g of which are saturated fats. There is no low-fat variant.

Irrespective of the milk’s raw versus processed status, it is price that will likely be the limiting factor on sales. It will be unlikely to compete with cheap supermarket milk for the mass market and for reasons of economy will be inaccessible to the low-income demographic and pensioners.

The salariat, middle class folk on a good income as well as those choosing the milk for its minimal processing and perceived health benefits, are likely to become its main consumers. The other day I looked in the local supermarket but the product was not stocked there. It is on sale, though, at the nearby Harris Farm store.

As a niche food, Made By Cow cold-processed milk is an innovation in the dairy industry substantially different to other innovations such as the milk-like flavoured milks and other highly processed offerings of the industry.

Made by cow: http://www.madebycow.com.au/#healthy
Weekly Times article: http://www.weeklytimesnow.com.au/agribusiness/dairy/made-by-cow-milk-labels-raw-truth-exposed/news-story/a0611e6f5bf1c724dce881d782321e45?nk=4939b44e73ff327a9ed34bd8bafff3ab-1470358826

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