Keeping it fresh with innovation

(From left) Loi, Azmi and Jacob at the Farm Fresh farm in Serdang, a collaboration with UPM that has earned the Industry Centre of Excellence recognition.

WALK into any hypermarket or store and a variety of milk products awaits consumers.

While shelves are mostly filled with cow’s milk, products like goat’s milk and plant-based milks have become popular as well.

And among these offerings are homegrown brand Farm Fresh’s dairy and plant-based milk products that cater to different preferences in terms of taste and dietary requirements.

According to Loi Tuan Ee, who is founder and managing director of The Holstein Milk Company Sdn Bhd (HMC) and Farm Fresh Milk Sdn Bhd, Farm Fresh offers more than 80 SKU (stock keeping unit) consisting of fresh milk, flavoured milk and yogurt-based products as well as goat’s milk.

Loi started his fresh milk business in 2010 after investing RM10mil in his farm at Mawai in Kota Tinggi, Johor. Sixty Holstein Jersey cows were imported from Australia for the purpose.

The 58-year-old believes few Malaysian consumers are aware that around 90% of products on retails shelves are made from powdered milk.

“Mothers can give their children fresh milk as it is sugar-free, ” he said at his farm Ladang 16, Taman Pertanian Universiti, Universiti Putra Malaysia in Serdang, Selangor.

Today, Loi has 6,000 cows, including tropical cows, and 250 goats in Malaysia, while there are another 2,500 Holstein cows in a farm in Australia.

Besides the Serdang farm – a collaboration with UPM that has earned the Industry Centre of Excellence recognition, Farm Fresh’s other farms are in Bandar Muadzam Shah (Pahang), Desaru (Johor), Pondok Tanjung in Taiping (Perak) and in Australia.

For Loi, the quality of feed is very important in ensuring that the cows, which he refers to as “girls and ladies”, are well nourished.

He said this was why Farm Fresh planted Napier grass, which was high in protein and energy, and Mombasa grass at its farms.

The company’s senior farm manager Jacob Mathan added, “We treat our cows as guests at a five-star hotel and nourish them with the best feed available.

“We grow a lot of fresh grass for them and harvest at peak ripeness.

“Together with the grass, we also feed the cows corn and soya beans as well as other vitamins and minerals to ensure the right nutritional balance, ” he said.

Farm Fresh milk products are available in two versions – pasteurised and UHT (ultra-high temperature).

“The company has grown to become a No.1 brand in the fresh milk category, based on the AC Nielsen report for 2019, ” Loi noted.

He said Farm Fresh also wanted to provide business opportunities to others through its home dealers networking system that was initiated in 2016 – the brainchild of HMC and Farm Fresh chief operating officer Azmi Zainal.

“Many home dealers and agents have become part of our value chain in terms of distribution (of dairy products).

“Some home dealers can earn up to RM5,000 a month by just distributing our products to night markets, neighbourhood stalls, schools and directly to consumers.

“We want to make a positive impact on communities and be socially responsible in terms of environment, ” Loi added.

Azmi said Farm Fresh currently has 38 stockists, 876 home dealers and 1,586 agents under its home dealers system, which has increased the company’s market base and enabled it to reach out to rural consumers nationwide.

The system, he noted, has uplifted the economic status of its stockists, and helped home dealers and agents enjoy better earnings.

Azmi also said that Farm Fresh would be launching a new banana-flavoured milk in June to cater to local taste buds.

He said the Kurma Milk (date-flavoured milk) that was launched in 2016, turned out to a hit, especially during Ramadan.

“We have launched our vegan series – almond milk, soy milk and oat milk – this year due to the increasing trend for plant-based products in the market.

“We also launched an Australian organic milk in March, and the response is encouraging.

“Our products are made from fresh milk so the nutritious (value), taste and aroma is different, ” he added.

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