SOUTHLANDERS will soon be able to get unprocessed farm-fresh milk from a farm gate vending machine courtesy of Farm Fresh South.
Located on the Woodlands-Invercargill highway, owner/operator Logan Johnson said an increasing number of small-scale dairy farms were employing this cow-to-customer method, but Farm Fresh South would be the first in Southland to have a raw milk vending machine.
His wife Melissa, originally from Motueka, said they got the idea after seeing a farm gate milk vending machine in Golden Bay.
After moving to Southland in 2009 and working on Southland dairy farms for eight years, the couple had raised enough capital to go it alone with their raw milk operation.
Mr Johnson said the risks associated with self-employment were offset by the greater potential returns.
A small number of people had signed up as VIP customers in advance, he said. VIP customers could preload milk credit cards and buy the farm’s milk at a reduced rate.
The couple hoped to have their vending machine up and running by next month, he said.
They currently milk 20 cows, but hoped to expand as demand grew.
To ensure a consistent product, Mr Johnson said he would be transitioning his cows over the first year to calve in batches every August, November, February and May.
Farm Fresh South raw milk would be sold via the vending machine in 1 litre reusable glass bottles.
The bottles would cost $4 each or people could bring their own.
Each litre of milk would then cost about $3, he said.
Raw milk farmers must test their milk’s bacteria levels regularly and can only sell raw milk directly from their farm or by delivering directly to customers, Mr Johnson said.
The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) website lists two other registered raw milk providers in Southland.
Under the Raw Milk for Sale to Consumers Regulated Control Scheme, raw milk suppliers must be registered with MPI.
According to MPI, there are possible risks associated with consuming raw, unpasteurised milk, and it was not recommended for young children and babies, the elderly, pregnant women and people with a weakened immune system.