Power of provenance: Premium dairy must be more than just different - evokeAG.

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Power of provenance: Premium dairy must be more than just different

For 137-year-old Brownes Dairy, the secret to long term success is keeping it fresh. And being obsessed – in a good way – with what their customers want.

Browns Dairy CEO Natalie Sarich-Dayton Brownes Dairy CEO Natalie Sarich-Dayton.

Whether it’s your trusty litre of milk or a premium iced coffee, Brownes Dairy has been delivering the goods since 1886. The iconic Western Australian dairy business started as a small farm and now employs more than 230 people.  

Brownes Dairy General Manager of Marketing, Bec Smith, says Brownes’ position as both a trusted, reliable provider of everyday dairy and a creative trailblazer bringing premium products to market, isn’t attributable to a precise formula. 

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“Being able to command a premium for products across different markets is probably equal parts art and science,” she said. 

“Sometimes customers will tell you what you want to hear, and other times they don’t know what they want until it’s either sitting in front of them or not meeting certain criteria. So, spotting the opportunity for new products is really a combination of various factors.”  

Historic photo of Brownes Dairy.

Brownes Dairy started as a small farm and now employs more than 230 people. Image | Brownes Dairy.

Lollipops and coffee, but not as you know them

Tapping into niche markets and commanding a price premium is something the team at Brownes have managed to do well.  

The hugely successful launch of a lollipop-like cheese snack, Cheesies, into China, Singapore and soon Hong Kong and Macau is testament.  

Cheesies serve a niche market and leverage the great reputation Australian dairy already has for quality and food safety in Asian markets – and they aren’t the only new product helping set Brownes Dairy apart. 

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The company’s ready to drink single origin cold brew coffee brand Hunt and Brew is making strides as Australia fastest growing iced coffee brand, with double digit sales growth over the past four years. 

Bec said embracing innovation has also meant embracing failure and using missteps to help the company learn and grow. 

“New ideas won’t always be winners, for example, the Ethiopian black cold brew coffee from Hunt and Brew was a complete flop when we first launched the range,” she said. 

“Instead of giving up on the product we pivoted, made minor tweaks and allowed the Hunt and Brew brand to get better established before relaunching this year. This strategy was a success, and the product is now being welcomed by our customers.” 

Brownes Dairy going beyond the label

Brownes Dairy CEO Natalie Sarich-Dayton will join a panel discussion at AgriFutures evokeAG. 2024 on 20-21 February in Perth, exploring how brands can take the leap toward extracting premiums for products, something the business believes comes down to more than just product differentiation or doing something new.  

“Differentiation is a multi-faceted thing, particularly when it comes to dairy,” Natalie said. 

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“It can be a price point, it can be provenance, it can be packaging, or brand equity. So yes, I think it’s true to say differentiation is key for premium products, but what that differentiation is, is more nuanced than just a new product or label. 

“It’s about understanding the consumer as well. For example, customers in Hong Kong will see value in parts of Brownes products that Western Australian customers won’t. I’ve seen a litre of New Zealand milk sold for AUD$26 in Hong Kong, and that is all about provenance and brand New Zealand.  

Brownes Dairy revived the popular ‘Milko’ home delivery service during the COVID-19 lockdowns. Image | Brownes Dairy.

“Building and leveraging this is as much about education and engagement as it is about packaging or labelling. For us, it’s about making people connect to the brand and have an emotional connection beyond just the product.” 

For Brownes Dairy, this means balancing the focus of the team across delivery of day-to-day business with the time and space required for innovation and new product development.  

“While its core business, it needs innovation too so we spend about 90 percent of our time on the core business, and about 10 percent for big picture ideation in pursuit of the next idea which could solve a problem for consumers or take our business to the next level,” Bec said. 

“For example, white milk underpins our business. With milk supply dropping and sustainability challenges at play we have to continue to spend time thinking about better ways to produce, package, deliver and market our core products as well.” 

Spotting a gap in the market is one thing, building the solution and making it pay is another. Natalie will continue this discussion at evokeAG. 2024 in panel discussion ‘Bleeding edge: Securing a premium’. Join us on 20-21 February in Perth, Western Australia. Tickets are on sale here. 

View the full two-day program, including all speakers and partners making evokeAG. 2024 possible. 

AgriFutures Australia is encouraging delegates to secure their tickets, flights, and accommodation now to avoid disappointment. 

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