Riverina Fresh pivots supply chain in 72 hours after lockdown comes into effect

Coronavirus and subsequent government restrictions have hit businesses hard, but milk processor is one of the Australian company to rise to the challenge.

As the dairy partner to over 5,000 cafes in VIC, NSW and ACT, Riverina Fresh was forced to seek out alternate sales channels fast when stage three government restrictions forced the shutdown of thousands of hospitality businesses overnight.

Discussions with supermarkets began, and within 72 hours, Riverina Fresh had expanded its retail footprint with a selection of its milks on the shelves of 180 Woolworths stores in Victoria and 100 per cent of stores in NSW and ACT, bypassing the backlogged distribution centres in Victoria and delivering direct to store with its refrigerated trucks.

“Panic buying had set in, and so we seized the opportunity to partner with Woolworths, and regional Coles and independent retailers to keep quality Australian produce on their shelves,” said Riverina Fresh CEO Rob Collier. “We’re a 100 per cent Australian owned dairy company that understands how to navigate tough times, having supported our farmers through the drought in the Riverina for the past three years.”

Following the expansion of its retail footprint, Riverina Fresh sought to collaborate with its out of home channel customers, using Riverina Fresh refrigerators for its milk and cream to enable cafes in their own pivot from eatery to local food pantry.

“Having been part of the foodservice and specialty coffee industry for almost a decade, this challenge is like nothing else we have faced before. And while the storm is far from over, it has been uplifting to see how the industry has come together to rally for their staff, their producers and their partners,” said Collier.

Riverina Fresh’s own pivot has secured the brand an expanded retail footprint in all NSW and ACT Woolworths; a boost for Riverina Fresh, its employees and farmers, in an uncertain time for many Australian manufacturers. The brand is now actively exploring the establishment of a home delivery channel in Melbourne and Sydney as well as further partnerships with independent retailers.

Boom in plant-based milk sales in Australia

A new audit of plant-based milk alternatives in Australia has revealed the category has grown by 58 per cent in number of products in two years.

Carried out by the Grains and Legumes Nutrition Council (GLNC), the audit of 112 products on shelf in the four major supermarkets included nut milks, grain milks, legume milks, coconut milks and mixes.

The audit reviewed all on-pack nutrition information.

Since the last audit of its kind in 2016, the number of coconut milk products has more than doubled at 220 per cent.

READ: Coles increases milk prices to help drought affected farmers

Nut milks have increased by 90 per cent, with even the well-established legume milk category growing by 36 per cent.

GLNC’s nutrition manager Felicity Curtain said people should check labels to ensure the plant-based milk they are buying is high in calcium and protein.

The milks that are fortified have consistent amounts, but not all are, she said.

“It highlights the importance of checking labels to be confident in the choice you’re making,” said Curtain.

Accredited practising dietitian Joel Feren said encouraging dairy alternatives to include calcium makes sense to consumers, who expect it to be in a product that is replacing calcium-rich cow’s milk.

“Few Australians fall short on protein however, so it’s possible to enjoy a variety of plant-based milks as part of a healthy, balanced diet,” he said.

“Having so many options is great for those avoiding dairy milks but knowing what to look for is key to making a healthy choice and for plant-based milks, that’s generally calcium and protein,” said Feren.