BeanScene Magazine


Riverina Fresh’s refreshed synergies

From the May 2017 issue.
Riverina Fresh’s refreshed synergies

Australian-owned Riverina Fresh is determined to make 2017 a year of renewed focus with collaborations that channel its beliefs in quality and innovation.

The first job Rob Collier had out of university was installing and repairing water pumps on dairy farms in Gippsland, Victoria. Years later, he finds himself reconnecting to farming life through his role as Riverina Fresh CEO.

“I am typically in touch with our Riverina dairy farmers most days of the week,” Rob says. “I talk with farm owners about the business, customers, weather conditions, and what’s happening on their farm.”

Riverina Fresh is now an independent, Australian-owned company after Blue River Group finalised its acquisition from Fonterra Australia in late October 2016. As a result of the company transition, Rob also changed roles from Fonterra General Manager of Beverages to company CEO.

“Personally, I feel the direction of the company is refreshed and focused under the new ownership. It means Riverina Fresh has the opportunity to be more entrepreneurial and customer focused, with a priority of working closely with its farmers in the Riverina region of New South Wales,” Rob says.

“As a medium size, independently-operated company, we hope to create closer links with key customers and become a key link between our farmers and consumers, particularly in specialty coffee. It’s a journey, but we’re excited that the quality and functionality of our milk enables us to specialise in premium coffee.”

Ten years ago, Rob says Riverina farmers had limited visibility of where their product was sold, or who enjoyed it once it left the farm gates. Now, closer links with the business and its customers is one of the things that helps keep Riverina farmers enthused about waking up each day at 3am, especially through the challenging weather conditions experienced over the past 12 months.

“Our farmers love the fact that Riverina Fresh is dedicated to producing high quality milk for Australia’s coffee industry. We invite baristas and roasters to the farm and factory to see dairy production first hand. The farmers get a real kick out of this – as do the baristas,” Rob says.

Riverina Fresh also invites its farmers to key events such as the Melbourne International Coffee Expo to provide insight for the farmers into the elite coffee industry.

“The majority of the farmers are remote. They want to feel part of a community, not just by definition in the Riverina area, but in the coffee community too. They love seeing how passionate and caring baristas are about the products they work with each day. Just as a barista shares a passion for quality coffee, our farmers and employees value milk in the same way. Quite often I hear our farmers refer to themselves as, ‘the coffee milk suppliers’. They’re incredibly proud of Riverina Fresh’s association with quality coffee.”

In order to meet the country’s discerning coffee standards and stand proud in a competitive dairy market, Rob says Riverina Fresh has to deliver a consistent product, day in, day out.

“Our high performance is a result of many factors, including the temperate climate in the Riverina, the farm practices of our suppliers, and our fresh processing at the factory. We even have barista-trained staff on site who stretch each batch of fresh milk prior to release to ensure it performs once it reaches the café.”

In line with Riverina Fresh’s focus on quality is an appreciation for collaborations with industry innovators, such as the designers and engineering masterminds behind Six Simple Machines.

Well known in the coffee community for the development of its chilled milk on tap Juggler dispensing system, Rob says Riverina Fresh were one of the “early believers” in the milk bladder that’s now become an industry standard for milk dispensing in Australian and New Zealand cafés.

“We were one of the first milk companies to take a risk and adopt the 10-litre bladder concept for The Juggler. Years later, our collaboration with Six Simple Machines remains one of our favourites, and one that continues to excel,” Rob says. “I think our successful partnership is a result of a shared alignment around quality, innovation, entrepreneurialism and passion that Six Simple Machines holds for the coffee industry, and one that we value too.”

Six Simple Machines’ Ben Curtis says Riverina Fresh’s support has been integral to the company’s growth. What began as a simple idea in 2010 to reduce milk bottle wastage in cafés and increase business profitability, has transpired into one of the great modern innovations to improve café operations.

“Seven years on and we’ve celebrated the 500th installation of The Juggler in the coffee industry. That level of growth couldn’t have happened without the support of the milk companies we work with, including Riverina Fresh,” Ben says. “It’s one of the companies that consistently tries to deliver a top quality product, which we completely respect, but most of all we value Riverina’s willingness to engage in the coffee industry, and the respect it shares for the amazing work of our Aussie farmers.”

The full article features in the April 2017 edition of BeanScene Magazine.
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