Free-ranging use of the “free-range” label on dairy product will confuse consumers and potentially harm the industry, say farmers.
South Australia Dairy farmers’ Association said industry should consider developing a free-range standard after Camperdown Dairy recently launched its “free-range milk”.
“I read it and went, ‘What’s that?’ and I’m a dairy farmer,” SADA president John Hunt said.
“We’ve got to be careful not to discredit our industry. We work very hard to keep legitimate … if there isn’t an industry standard they shouldn’t be able to say it.
“I could come and say my milk’s nuclear-free if I want — it’s correct, but it doesn’t mean anything.”
Camperdown Dairy chief executive Peter Skene said the company would welcome an industry standard.
The company launched its free-range milk in August across 20 Woolworths stores in Victoria, costing $4 for two litres — 50 cents more than its standard milk.
Food Standards Australia confirmed there were no standards around the term “free-range” for dairy.
Mr Skene said the new product was in response to a perceived trend toward more intensive dairy farming or feeding in Victoria. It was also in response to “mixing” within the supply chain, with milk from different farms often collected in the one tanker.
Mr Skene said its free-range milk all came from the one Camperdown Dairy-owned farm, was collected in a separate tanker and treated separately at its factory, guaranteeing its full traceability and segregation.
He said 530 cows grazed on the 247ha, or 610-acre, farm, at a “minimum of one acre per cow” with natural shelter, and no housing or intense feeding.
Source: The Weekly Times