Parmalat in world's longest milk run

Parmalat in world's longest milk run

Dairy
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BULK WA milk, 80,000-100,000 litres at a time, is being trucked by road to Darwin.

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BULK WA milk, 80,000-100,000 litres at a time, is being trucked by road to Darwin.

The 4200 kilometre, 55-hour triple-road-train journey using two drivers, from the Harvey Fresh factory in Harvey to a Parmalat Australia bottling plant in the Darwin suburb of Woolner, is believed to be the longest milk delivery run in the world.

Harvey Fresh farm liaison manager Ken Sharpe said the long-haul delivery had been initiated to help cope with the "spring flush" of extra milk production which was expected to be bigger than normal because of the good season.

"It (Darwin) is normally supplied by Parmalat (Parmalat owns Harvey Fresh) from the Atherton Tablelands in Queensland,'' Mr Sharpe said.

"But, the Atherton Tablelands has a shortage of milk and is being supplied with milk from Victoria.

"We've got surplus milk in WA so we're supplying Darwin."

Mr Sharpe said Harvey Fresh had hired liquid transport specialists Booths Transport to cart the milk.

It was chilled to two degrees Celsius before it left the Harvey Fresh plant.

"This time of year carting milk in insulated tankers is not a problem, even to Darwin," Mr Sharpe said.

But later in the year Harvey Fresh may have to look at a refrigerated option for the run, he said.

Mr Sharpe said Harvey Fresh had just signed up McColl's Transport to start collecting milk this month from its farmer suppliers.

It was the first time Harvey Fresh had used a contractor for all of its fresh milk farm pick ups, he said, but Parmalat used contract milk tankers and drivers in other States.

The move would save Harvey Fresh the expense of having to replace its aging fleet of prime movers and tanker trailers, he said.

"Up until now we've run our own tankers and drivers and picked up about 80 per cent of our milk,'' he said.

The old Challenge tankers were purchased by Harvey Fresh's previous family owners in 2010 as Challenge Australia Dairy went into liquidation owing creditors, including dairy farmers, more than $13 million.

"Some are older than I am,'' Mr Sharpe said.

"It would be big job to replace all of them, there's six trucks and the trailers."

He said McColl was interviewing Harvey Fresh drivers and it was expected they would be taken on, plus a couple of additional drivers.

McColl's claims it operates the largest specialised fleet of modern food-grade stainless-steel bulk liquid tankers in Australia.

Mr Sharpe said Parmalat had also shifted some of its UHT (ultra high temperature) and ESL (extended shelf life) export production from the eastern states to the Harvey plant to soak up WA's surplus milk.

"You need good quality milk for ESL and Victoria is where the high quality milk is,'' he said.

"But our WA farmers produce good quality milk too, so Parmalat is putting some of that into export and we have the added advantage that it is quicker to get exports through Fremantle port than Melbourne," Mr Sharpe said.

He said the company would cope with the spring flush,

"But we've told our farmers to cull (their herds) a bit this year, the emphasis is on quality, not quantity," Mr Sharpe said.

Harvey Fresh plans to double its exports of UHT and ESL milk but its longer-term plans have been delayed by a distributor in China slashing an order due to European dairy producers dumping product on that market in the short-term.

Harvey Fresh has told five suppliers who did not take up a new contract option with Parmalat in 2014 and who have been supplying milk out of contract for 12 months or more, that it does not want their milk after January.

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