Dairy processor Burra milks export success with first-in-market frozen milk concentrate

Burra Foods Australia is a leader in the dairy ingredients market, using innovative technologies to create products that meet the needs of its customers.

In the early 1990s, Burra Foods purchased the Korumburra plant, with six people and a vision. Today, it is bringing the best of Australian dairy to the world. The company was the first in Australia to make Frozen Milk Concentrate (FMC). The natural milk ingredient retains the taste of fresh milk and has a longer shelf life than competitors. FMC is now Burra’s largest export product, with customers across Asia and the Middle East.

‘Demand for fresh milk and milk ingredients has been growing rapidly, at a faster rate than growth in the local milk supply in many Asian countries. A solution to this increasing demand is the innovative range of frozen milk concentrates that Burra Foods has developed,’ says Des Reilly, Sales Manager – Ingredients, Burra Foods Australia. ‘It’s as close to fresh milk flavour and functionality as you can get.’

Coster farm, Cloverlea Gippsland

Customer-driven dairy innovation

Based in the world class dairy region of Gippsland Victoria, Burra manufactures high-value dairy products. With rich soils and a gentle climate, the region is primed for dairy production. Gippsland cows predominately feed on fresh pasture, producing rich, creamy milk. Burra works with 180 milk supply partners, who produce some of the highest-quality milk in Australia. The company has 200 staff, making it one of the region’s major employers to support regional prosperity.

At Burra, the company leverages research and development to meet customer requirements. As a manufacturer of specialised dairy ingredients, Burra prides itself on unique solutions. The idea for FMC came from a customer who wanted a better-tasting natural milk ingredient with the functionality of fresh milk for supply to coffee stores.

‘At Burra, we adapt to the market. We listen to our customers, making products to suit their needs,’ says Lauren Hamilton, Burra’s Marketing Manager. ‘Our customers came to us with this opportunity. We were able to develop the product, for them and with them.’

‘Reconstituted milk powder does not have the same fresh flavour and product performance,’ adds Jo Rees, Burra’s General Manager, Sales and Marketing.

‘We identified a growing need for a frozen milk product that when reconstituted, tastes like real milk. We developed a gentle way of processing milk that ensures we don’t denature the protein.’

The farm-fresh milk is gently concentrated, packed and frozen. The full-cream product FMC 45 is designed for café customers with foaming and frothing qualities. FMC 3833 is designed to provide customers with milk components similar to farm milk. Every batch of FMC is tested, to ensure the highest quality standards. Burra’s FMC has a 2-year shelf life while frozen, and the same shelf life as fresh milk when reconstituted. The practical benefits include greater flexibility and reduced freight costs.

In turn, manufacturers and food suppliers have greater control to manage supply and demand like having milk in the freezer that can be reconstituted as liquid.

Exporting to Southeast Asia and the Middle East

Burra’s quality products have opened doors to the global dairy ingredients market. The company markets close to 30,000 tonnes of FMC every year. It exports to Southeast Asia, China, and Taiwan, with each market accounting for 20% of exports. The Middle East and Australia make up the remaining 20%.

With 240 million litres of milk per year, Burra is keen to increase exports to other food manufacturing markets, particularly those that don’t have easy access to fresh milk.

‘When we approach new markets, the first thing we do is call Austrade,’ says Rees. ‘It’s a genuine partnership, and the support is endless. Austrade assists with local market knowledge and the introduction to potential business partners.

‘Austrade’s connection with industry bodies including Dairy Australia is priceless,’ adds Rees. ‘Austrade and Dairy Australia work together to profile Australia's capabilities to international manufacturers and importers, which helps raise our profile.’

Future plans

Burra Foods Australia is now developing a cream cheese product. According to Rees, ‘Cream cheese is one of the fastest growing dairy ingredients in the world.’

‘Burra has plans to deliver a best-in-class product,’ she says. ‘There are needs in the market that aren’t being met and Burra is working towards meeting those needs.’

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