A South Island company is setting a precedent by selling raw milk to consumers.
But plans to set up franchises around the country have stalled while other farmers await the outcome of a Ministry of Primary Industries review of raw milk regulations.
Village Milk is a Golden Bay business selling milk under the 1981 Food Act which allows farmers to sell up to five litres of milk daily to buyers who consume it themselves or provide it for their families.
The company, owned by the Houston family, has imported an automatic milk dispenser to sell milk direct to the public from its Clifton farm.
Managing director Richard Houston said it sells up to 300 litres a day for $2 a litre.
He expects demand to increase when there is a summer influx of visitors to Golden Bay.
He said there was interest in buying Village Milk franchises from farmers in the North and South Island.
But because the ministry was reviewing the submissions and options, farmers were reluctant to invest until decisions were made, he said.
“We just hope they come to a decision that does not place us outside the rules. There is potential they could shut us down if they come back with new rules.
“Hopefully they make the right decision.”
The Houstons have also made a submission.
“Basically we’ve said there’s massive public demand and people will be gutted if they cannot get hold of our milk, and it’s good for them.”
Debate is bubbling over the potential health safety risk of unpasteurised milk and its benefits.
That was highlighted in a Sunday programme screened on TV One, when health researcher Professor Bob Elliott, whose sister died from drinking unpasteurised milk, warned of its risks.
Mr Houston said there were risks in people who used loopholes and did not do it properly with a risk management programme that involved rigorous testing and safety regimes.
“There needs to be some sort of governing body that looks after the raw milk industry,” he said.
Meanwhile, the South Island’s only independent milk supplier, Klondyke Fresh, is calling for additives to milk to be disclosed.
Its chief executive, Graeme Brown, said: “Milk does not just contain milk any more”. Additives should be disclosed on the label so consumers could choose whether they want natural milk or an adulterated alternative, he said.
He said companies which adulterated their milk with permeate were cutting production costs, but undermined the nutritional quality of their product.
Permeate was a byproduct of dairy production used to “volumise” milk, and it changed the milk construction, he said. Cows did not have it in their product.
‘Permeate is high in lactose – the sugar component of milk – and its addition decreases the nutritional benefit of what should be a great, healthy source of protein,” he said.