Kiewa Country Milk is back on the table

The decision to return Kiewa Country Milk to the shelves will mean the next generation will also get the benefits of this great local milk.
The decision to return Kiewa Country Milk to the shelves will mean the next generation will also get the benefits of this great local milk.

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WHEN the Kyvalley Dairy Group purchased Kiewa Country Milk, the company knew how much it meant to the local community. 

“We saw an opportunity to get behind an iconic heritage brand, but we also knew it is a product that has been around a long time,” said Alastair McCredden, CEO of Kyvalley Dairy Group.

“It is more than just milk to some people. It gets talked about it as though it is part of their personal history.

“It is very common to hear people say ‘I grew up on Kiewa Country Milk,” he said.

The Mulcahy family who owns Kyvalley Dairy Group has been involved with the dairy industry for 160 years, originally as dairy farmers and now as major milk processors.

Their decision to return Kiewa Country Milk to the shelves was due to popular demand. From the major supermarket chains to small shops and cafes, the message was universal.

The milk also gives the community an identity. People are really attached to the Kiewa Country Milk brand.

Brendon Arundel, owner Kiewa General Store

“We spent a lot of time talking to customers and it was overwhelming. We didn’t have anyone saying they didn’t want it back,” Alastair said.

One of the key commitments being made to customers is that Kiewa Country Milk will remain the real-deal and come direct from the Kiewa Valley, as it done for over a century.

“While our processing isn't based here, we are still sourcing the milk from the local area,” he said.

“This will ensure that the product remains authentic and will always have that strong local quality.”

In addition, Kiewa Country Milk flavoured products will continue to be made from locally-sourced milk.

Every ingredient will match the original recipes in order to meet high customer expectations about the return.

“We have evolved some of packaging but the original taste will be the same, using the same milk,” Alastair said.

It’s not just the milk suppliers, processors and customers who share a long history with Kiewa Country Milk. 

If the walls of the Kiewa General Store could talk, they’d have many great stories to tell about the colourful characters that have dropped in sooner or later to ‘grab some Kiewa Country Milk’.

For generations, this has included the many locals who have played key roles in the milk’s production, including tanker driver, Mick Crothers.

In the 1970s, Mick spent many miles travelling the rich North East dairy country to collect and deliver milk, while his wife, Annie, worked in the milk processing factory.

Mick and Annie’s great nephew, Brendon Arundel now runs the Kiewa General Store with his wife, Sheridan.

It is a family connection to Kiewa Country Milk and the dairy industry that Brendon recalls with pride.

“My dad was originally from a dairy farm in Gundowring but he spent a lot of time jockeying in the tanker with his Uncle Mick,” Brendan said.

Taking over the general store and moving to Kiewa three years ago was a ‘tree change’ decision the Arundels and their two children, Toby, seven, and Milla, five, have happily made.

“We decided we wanted the adventure and the challenge,” Brendon said.

“I come from Mildura but we always came through here on regular holidays to Mitta Mitta. We thought we’d take a punt”, he said.

Brendan’s commitment to the re-launch of Kiewa Country Milk isn’t just sentimental, it is a business strategy that draws on his professional background in retail and food merchandising.

“If you can have your town’s name on milk (when you sell it), you’re already winning,” Brendan said.

He believes the return of Kiewa Country Milk has a ripple-effect that goes deeper than outsiders could understand.

“The milk also gives the community an identity. People are really attached to the Kiewa Country Milk brand.”

When locally-branded milk was put back on the general store’s shelves a few weeks ago, Brendon said it was welcomed for another good reason: making a better-quality cappuccino and latte.

“We only use the best ingredients so there is only one milk to use,” said the trained barista.

“We also get our coffee locally, in Mt Beauty, in a style made to suit what people want.”

“We’ve been listening to what locals are telling us, and that’s how we run our business,” he said.

The much-anticipated return of Kiewa Country Milk flavoured products will be another key moment for locals who have been grieving the loss of the iconic products, especially iced coffee.

“In the past, you’d see people come in three times a day to buy Kiewa iced coffee…people always asking if we had any left.

“Not just locals, they’d come from afar,” Brendon said.

“They like the brand but they really like the actual flavour.”

One of the things that Brendon and his wife are passionate about is supporting the local economy.

The Kiewa General Store employs eight additional staff from the local area, and they have recently expanded the business to widen the range of products, again choosing locally wherever possible.

“Every little bit adds up, people don’t always realise the difference it can make,” Brendon said.

“That’s why it is so good to see the return of Kiewa milk. We’ll support it any way we can,” he said.

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