NZ Dairy Summer 2021

18 | nzdairy DAIRY PEOPLE » Aunt Jean’s Dairy Milking cows in Nelson for 80 years Seventh generation farmer Julian Raine (above). A core value for the Raine family is to connect with their community (below). Karen Phelps Aunt Jean’s Dairy and its sister brand Oakland Milk both owe their existence to a Fonterra decision in 2012 to stop taking winter milk from the last three suppliers at the top of the South Island. The Raine family have been milking cows in Nelson for 80 years and they didn’t have to look too far back in their history to find a precedent for what they decided to do next as seventh generation farmer Julian Raine explains. “My grandfather started up the Nelson Milk Company along with a number of other Nelson farmers at the end of the Second World War, a co-operative delivering milk in glass bottles to the community. These days supermarkets supply the bulk of milk to New Zealanders in a two litre pack but there are people who don’t want to buy plastic, who want to buy milk how it used to be which is whole milk that hasn’t been highly processed, and who want to recycle their packaging, so that’s what we do with our glass bottle.” The Raine family decision to turn the clock back to the future has resulted in a steady supply of their A2-A2 milk being available in glass bottles from the gate, from swap-a-bottle, from vending machines throughout the Nelson Region and more recently through home-delivery. If you enjoy a flat white in one of Nelson’s many cafes it’s likely that you’re drinking their Oaklands Milk as well, named after their farm wedged between Nelson City and Richmond. They milk 500 A2-A2 cows of their own and buy in milk from another two farms, carefully vetted to ensure that they operate with the same practices as the Raines. “We don’t feed Palm Kernel, we rear all calves, and we have good environmental and animal welfare standards,” says Julian. The quantity of milk they supply increased significantly when they worked out how they could continue with their glass bottles, a core part of their identity and brand, and still supply the supermarkets who were pressuring them for their milk. “When you go into supermarkets you need a bar code whereas our glass bottles are nude, they don’t have a label on them, and we put the required information either onto their lids or on the internet. We didn’t want to confuse our customers so we came up with our supermarket brand, Aunt Jean’s Dairy which now supplies around 70 New Worlds, and a few Fresh Choices, Four Squares and Raeward Fresh around the South Island and the bottom of the North.” Both Julian’s family and his wife Cathy’s family had a lot of connections with the name Jean and the name “Aunt Jean’s Dairy” carries their respect for their forebears and reflects the traditional values at the core of their decision to do things the way they used to be done. Another core value for the Raine family, which they’ve made one of their KPI’s, is to reconnect with their community and particularly with children. In the year pre-Covid they had around 750 visitors to the farm, 80% of whom were 18 or younger, a mix of community and school groups. “We want to reconnect people with farms and farmers and animals, and what happens on a farm shouldn’t be a mystery. Kids especially need to know where the food on their table comes from and we want to show them that we’re not all bad buggers, so we invite them to come and see what we do,” says Julian. Whether its Oaklands Milk or Aunt Jean’s Dairy, the Raine’s glass bottled milk now provides between 20% and 25% of the milk in their region. Apart from being heated to protect its drinkers from bacteria it’s as close as you can get to milk direct from the cow, and it can be traced back to the paddocks the cows were grazing before they came to be milked.