Premium milks have seen tremendous growth over the past two years. The category that market research company Nielsen calls ‘Indulgent milk’, which includes flavoured milk by Puhoi Valley and Lewis Road Creamery, saw a growth rate of over 2000 percent in 2015, and 34 percent on top of that in 2016. As of early November it was worth more than $27 million. Now there’s a new player on the market – Aunt Jean’s offers unflavoured, unhomogenised, premium milk.
Julian and Cathy Raine in November launched a new premium milk brand into Farro Fresh and Raeward Fresh supermarkets: Aunt Jean’s Dairy. The Raines, who are seventh-generation dairy farmers, also run Oaklands Farm, a sister brand which has supplied A2 milk directly to consumers and some commercial operators in Nelson since 2013.
Aunt Jean’s Dairy represents the Raines’ foray into supermarket supply. It currently supplies only Auckland and the top of the South Island, but plans to supply other main centres in 2017.
The milk is presented as an unapologetically premium product – it comes in old-fashioned glass bottles manufactured by Kiwi glassmaker O-I, which Julian Raine believes gives it an edge across both taste and aesthetics.
“It tastes a lot better in glass than it does in plastic.”
Glass also keeps the milk colder for longer. Raine’s anti-plastic philosophy even extends to in-store tastings, in which the milk is presented in branded shot glasses. The bottles are also eco-friendly, says Raine, who points out that glass is an infinitely recyclable resource.
“We’re kind of turning the clock back and taking all the good parts we do like,” Raine says.
He says the market for Lewis Road’s premium dairy proved to a lot of people that the price elasticity for milk is “substantially more than just going for the lowest price.” With Aunt Jean’s Dairy, Raine has pitched his price points to reflect “a fair price for a high-quality product”.
“There’s a whole range of stuff we don’t do, and there’s a cost in doing that.”
The home delivery option Oaklands offers in Nelson is unfortunately too difficult to take nationwide, but most of the other old-fashioned values Raine prizes from his first dairy company have been carried over into Aunt Jean’s Dairy.
The milk is pasteurised, but not homogenised. The cows that make it are not fed palm kernel, and no permeates are added to the milk. Currently, whole milk and light milk versions are available, with cream soon to come.
Raine describes it as having had “minimal mucking around with it”.
[Source of data: Nielsen, Value Sales – Total Supermarkets, MAT from 09 Nov 2014 to 06 Nov 2016]