Meredith Dairy – Australia-UK Free Trade Agreement helps gourmet business diversify its markets
17 December 2021
‘Our business is all about contributing to a sustainable world. And that includes financial sustainability.’
Angus Cameron, Marketing Director, Meredith Dairy
From the growers’ markets of Melbourne and the delis of New York, to gracing the menu at a luncheon hosted by the Australian Prime Minister, the Hon Scott Morrison MP, for Indonesian President Joko Widodo*.
These are all places that Victorian-based Meredith Dairy’s marinated goat cheese has made an impression.
Continuing to maintain and grow its export markets is important to Meredith Dairy. This is especially so in the current global environment, packed with the unexpected.
Expanding into the UK first with Austrade’s help, and now the Australia-UK Free Trade Agreement (FTA), aligns with the company’s export strategy.
FTAs opening more doors for cheesemakers
Austrade and FTAs play important roles in navigating and managing clearances and documents for export.
For Angus Cameron, Meredith Dairy’s Marketing Director, success means honouring the reality of an FTA. ‘It’s a two-way relationship,’ he says.
He is eager to see his family’s Meredith Dairy marinated goat cheese in Britain’s supermarkets. He is also looking forward to seeing the UK’s Wensleydale and Stilton cheeses on Australia’s shelves.
Meredith Dairy has already made a stir in the UK market. The company has set up in Bath, which Cameron describes as the ‘real cheese area’.
In 2020, its marinated goat cheese won gold in the Nantwich UK International Cheese & Dairy Awards. This annual event is the Oscars of the dairy industry. It attracts entries from some 5,500 cheesemakers and dairy producers from across the globe.
Local accolades, combined with ‘word of mouth’ marketing by UK customers, have driven demand. The business is now supplying some 13 cafés and retailers in the UK.
‘Expatriate Australians with a chain of cafés in the UK want to put our marinated cheese on their menus,’ says Cameron.
‘Some English chefs who use our cheese in their US restaurants have also asked for our product. They want to introduce it into their UK outlets.’
Austrade assistance sealing the cheese deal
‘With support from Austrade we’ve found a really good partner in the UK,’ explains Cameron. ‘The importer knew of our product and had some experience dealing with Australia. That’s where Austrade was really beneficial.
‘Its on-the-ground contacts and virtual introductions have been of real assistance to us. We’re beginning to re-engage with the UK now it has separated from the European Union.’
Today, with Austrade’s help, those relationships can be built virtually. This avoids the time and cost of getting on a plane.
For Meredith Dairy, it also meant setting up a local limited liability company (LLC) and building the ability to respond quickly to demand.
Making waves in the US
Rugby Wilson, Meredith Dairy’s National Sales Manager, says the company’s export journey started in late 2004.
It was triggered by requests from customers who had moved to the US. With significant help from the Australia-United States FTA, Meredith Dairy’s export business had grown at 20% a year by 2019.
‘When we went into the US, we had a long-term vision,’ says Wilson. ‘We knew it would take time, and it has. The original hefty tariff on our product has been progressively lowered to today’s negligible 0.3%. We stayed the course and built contacts and relationships. Today we know what works and what doesn’t. We also have a tariff code that makes commercial sense.’
What is it that sets Meredith Dairy cheese apart?
‘We have combined our passion for nature and the land, for food and financial sustainability, with the smarts of business,’ says Cameron.
‘It started with the desire my mum and dad, Julie and Sandy Cameron, had to produce the best products they could in a responsible and sustainable way. This meant embracing all that innovation and investment in technology could offer. It also meant working with partners to master the requirements, regulations and cost challenges of expanding our market reach.’
*What was on the menu at the official luncheon thrown by Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison for Indonesian President Joko Widodo? It was ‘sous vide corn-fed chicken’ with an aromatic bone broth, mushrooms, mash, and Meredith Dairy goat cheese.
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