A FOURTH-generation Tangambalanga dairy family has become the first to sign on to supply milk for the reborn Kiewa Country brand.
Stephen Coulston has switched to the brand’s owner Kyvalley Dairy Group from Murray Goulburn, which sold off Kiewa Country after ending milk production at its Tangambalanga plant.
“I’m very proud that we as a family are able to continue that Kiewa Country tradition on for generations,” Mr Coulston said.
“This decision wasn’t taken lightly.
“It was when the Kiewa brand was sold off I thought it would be good to get the Kiewa Country brand back and the opportunity arose with Kyvalley and they have similar views on quality to what we have.”
Kyvalley director Wayne Mulcahy accepted there had been flak about whether the brand’s milk was sourced from the Kiewa Valley.
“It was important for us to answer that criticism and put a face on our direct supplier and we’re excited it’s the Coulston family,” he said.
Mr Coulston said it was now “virtually impossible” to say Kiewa brand milk was not local despite processing occurring at Kyabram.
“It’s produced locally and it’s sold locally...and it’s being distributed locally, the distributors are local,” he said.
“There’s still an Australian owned family company processing it.
“I don’t think it’s a big deal.”
Mr Coulston’s father Fred, 85, said it was a hard decision to leave Murray Goulburn but they felt poorly treated.
“That word of ‘respect’ wasn’t there, we supplied for them since 1983, morning, noon and night, and they dropped a bombshell and we had to reconsider what we would do,” he said.
Mr Mulcahy said the supply from the Coulstons’ herd of 500 cows would supplement milk being sold to Kyvalley through a Murray Goulburn run from the Kiewa Valley.
He said he would be happy to speak to more farmers about supply deals, but there are no immediate plans to sign on others.
Mr Mulcahy said sales of Kiewa iced coffee, which was relaunched last week, had exceeded forecasts.
He said chocolate milk was likely to be on sale after next March and the Kiewa products would return to Coles supermarkets in January and Woolworths later.