WA history made: Bannister Downs Dairy’s milk wins most popular dairy product in Australia

Headshot of Shannon Verhagen
Bannister Downs Dairy operators Sue Daubney, Gina Rinehart and Mat Daubney.
Camera IconBannister Downs Dairy operators Sue Daubney, Gina Rinehart and Mat Daubney. Credit: JASON THOMAS

A “world class” dairy in the State’s south has won a historic accolade this week, with its milk named the most popular dairy product in the country in the prestigious Australian Grand Dairy Awards.

Bannister Downs’ Farm Fresh Milk was awarded the People’s Choice Award for the most popular dairy product in the country, which is believed to be the first WA product to do so in the competition’s 23-year history.

Founded in 1924, the Northcliffe dairy has a history spanning almost a century and four generations, with Mat and Sue Daubney starting on-farm processing 16 years ago.

They produced the first pouch of Bannister Downs Dairy milk in 2005, swiftly racking up accolades in the years that followed.

The couple entered into a partnership with Hancock Prospecting’s Gina Rinehart in 2014, which enabled them to produce their premium product in larger volumes “without compromising their core business and operational values”.

They have since moved into a state-of-the-art facility in 2018, with their milk processed on farm in eco-friendly packaging and sold in Coles, Woolworths, independent retailers and more than 350 cafes across WA.

With 1600-head producing more than five million litres annually, the South West dairy is home to one of the biggest dairy herds in Australia, which they consider “part of the family”.

Mrs Daubney called their latest win a “huge milestone” after a challenging few years navigating the impact of the pandemic.

“It’s testament to our team and to our herd — our girls — and the ongoing investment in our product,” she said.

“We’ve gone from a team of three when we started out in 2005, to now around 56, with the invaluable assistance of a partner who we trust and who shares our values and wants to see this iconic WA business perform on the world stage.

“We have always set out to achieve excellence and this award is evidence that as a small business we are well on our way to achieving that.”

The dairy — which has grown from a team of five to 56 staff — deliberately pasteurises the milk for longer at a lower temperature, to be gentle on the proteins and enzymes which enrich its flavour and nutritional value.

Mrs Rinehart said she was “very proud” of the accolade and and looked forward to seeing the company continue to thrive.

“It is very exciting to hear of the win for our fresh milk in the prestigious 2022 AGDA People’s Choice Award – a most deserved recognition for the efforts of the hard-working team and a great reward for their commitment and dedication to taking care of everything, from the paddock through to deliveries, and particularly in these challenging times since early 2020,” she said.

Looking ahead, Mrs Daubney said they were looking to expand their market share both over east and internationally, promoting their product as “Australia’s favourite milk in the world’s most sustainable pouch”.

“We have the capacity to achieve considerable growth focusing on our core milk, cream and flavoured milk range and to maintain the high standard for which we are recognised,” she said.

Another aspect the business is proud of is the eco-friendly, light-weight pouches which have become synonymous with the brand.

The Ecolean packaging uses a third-less plastic by using 35 per cent crushed limestone and is able to be recycled through the nationwide soft plastic packaging initiative REDcycle.

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