Anne Bennett talks Udder Way with Australian Dairy Foods
million plastic milk bottles from Australia.
Tasmanian Ed Crick has refined (and patented) his milk-on-tap invention – the Udder Way – with some compelling and affordable results for hospitality.
Partnering with fellow Tasmanian processor Ashgrove Farms and Ashgrove Cheese, together they have launched the Udder Way in Tasmania and New Zealand. It is already operating in Tasmania’s Marriot International Hotel, along with independent grocery stores and cafes state-wide.
Ashgrove Cheese’s Marketing Brand and Communications Manager, DIAA member Anne Bennett, says there are several key components in the Udder Way that are exciting for the industry. They didn’t hesitate partnering with Ed.
“Ed was a coffee guy who was really annoyed at the amount of milk bottles that were getting thrown away,” Anne says. “There has been a lot of noise about government
recycling and while Ed said that was great, he felt they should be more proactive at the source. His thinking all along was, ‘Why don’t we eliminate the plastics in the first place?'”
Anne says while milk-on-tap is not a new thing – systems already exist in the UK, USA New Zealand and Tasmania – “this under-counter system is the best unit I’ve seen in 20 years in hospitality”.
Anne says there are some critical advantages in Udder Way’s design.
“What’s genius about it is that it’s an 18-litre recyclable keg. It’s not a plastic bladder. The system costs a business around $900 to tap into the bench, while the other systems I am aware of cost around $10,000.
“It’s smaller than nine two-litre bottles. Its pumping system is an air compressor. So, there is no cost in gas. The footprint is quite literally a little 20cm x 15cm air compressor.”
She says they spent 10 months working with Ed to refine how to wash and sanitise the kegs, fill them, get them on and off pallets or a milk truck driver’s trolley and how to put them in fridges for food service.
Then it was ready for the masses.
Anne says from a distribution perspective for Ashgrove’s fresh milk service, it is already saving their business 30% on their milk truck deliveries. The empty kegs are backloaded to Ashgrove Cheese for cleaning and sanitising.
“Bottled milk is still the majority of our business. Ashgrove loves the right partnership, and we see partnerships with businesses as important opportunities.”
She says Ed has also made a philosophical decision for his business.
“What Ed has done is partnered with family-owned dairies. We’re big enough, we’re nimble enough, smart enough and we’ve got enough vision to have grabbed this. We’re also well connected with our stakeholders, and we have been able to bring value to the partnership as we have worked together.
“For us, Ed has allowed us the exclusive licence in Tasmania right now, which is terrific. He is also working with dairy businesses in Victoria, NSW and New Zealand.
“The strength of the Udder Way is in restaurants, cafés and hotels, but it is also starting to roll out into local independent grocery stores, where customers can bring their bottles in and re-fill them themselves in-store."
Anne says the innovation is a concrete solution to environmental progress.
She says, “We are milk. That’s our core, and this innovation is great for the environment, our customers – and a massive step forward for our industry.
“Ed is an impressive man with an impressive team. This is so the future.”