Dairy SA received $167,000 in funding from Round 1 and 2 of the Premium Food and Wine Co-Innovation Cluster Program to examine existing linkages across the South Australian dairy industry, identify growth and collaboration opportunities and review potential strategies to meet overcome common challenges and develop the industry. The goal of the project was to put into action strategies that could not only lead to better collaboration but also grow confidence and profitability in the SA dairy sector.
“Collaboration is essential to our industry. It’s about connecting people and giving them the skills, knowledge and support needed to run their business effectively, regardless of where they sit in the value chain.” - Victoria McClurg, Barossa Valley Cheese.
Under Round 1, a Strategy Group was established with representatives across key farmers, industry stakeholders and processors, to determine the best approach to establishing a dairy-focussed cluster in South Australia. Project activities focussed on identifying industry gaps, developing project concepts to support profitability and looking at approaches to better overcome industry volatility. This initial work resulted in a cluster group called ‘A Small Dairy Processor Cluster - connecting, coordinating and cooperating’. The cluster was formed in partnership with Dairy Innovation Australia Limited (DIAL) and aimed at assisting in delivering greater benefits across the value chain from milk suppliers and industry bodies through to small processors and sales, including niche regional producers. This part of the project reflected the “grass to glass” value chain of the State’s dairy industry, and involved cooperation across the two pilot regions of the Limestone Coast and the Murraylands/Riverland.
A number of forums, education and training workshop were implemented as part of the cluster’s activities, looking at business models and opportunities for improved production or processing techniques. An example of this, was the DairySA Niche Processor Forum, which provided the opportunity for all SA dairy processors to gain insights into world consumer trends, export potential, branding, together with the opportunity for networking and engagement with industry colleagues. Further to this, training workshops were held with DIAL experts allowing SA dairy processors to familiarise with the technical capabilities accessible to them. Business strategies were also developed as part of the project, particularly looking at how to address effluent management issues for those who deliver on-farm services such as milk company field officers, Dairy Authority staff and technicians.
The Dairy Cluster saw strong collaboration across the value chain from milk suppliers and industry bodies, through to small processors and sales points, including niche regional producers. As a result of the cluster initiative Dairy SA has increased local and regional collaboration, specifically in developing regional effluent management and research into regional processing opportunities. More than 40 companies have been engaged as a result of the cluster and are now involved in adding value to the state’s raw milk production. Further growth in this area is projected as an outcome of the increased collaboration.
The central forum provided the opportunity for SA dairy processors to come together to acquire new information, expand networks and explore opportunities for collaboration. Connecting these businesses in this way, and through follow-up meetings, provided a platform to build relationships and trust. It also provided the environment for innovative thinking, leading to new opportunities for the industry and sector.
“It became clear as part of the cluster work we completed that there was an opportunity to grow and become more connected. The cluster helped to strengthen our engagement with business leaders, activate business opportunities and explore marketing and branding options to better promote our products.” - Deana Mildren, Dairy SA.
Through the cluster project, a number of opportunities for the niche dairy processing sector in South Australia were identified, including the capacity to become more connected. Dairy SA will continue to build on progress made in establishing a cluster group and strengthen the engagement of business leaders as well as activate business opportunities, connect stakeholders and explore marketing and branding. Dairy SA are currently working on plans to launch a promotional film that has involved the entire dairy value chain in SA. This will aim to give niche processors, producers and regional retailers the opportunity to be united by a common story that promotes South Australian premium dairy products.
“The delivery of this initial cluster project has uncovered a number of opportunities for the industry, revealing the small dairy processing and retail sector as a priority area of the value chain for further work, innovation and collaboration.” - Deana Mildren, Dairy SA.
Further information on Dairy SA can be found by visiting: www.dairysa.com.au