A RETIRED Poowong East farmer has shared his story of how he helped introduce UHT milk to South Gippsland.
UHT milk, also known as long-life milk, was practically unheard of in the area before Gerrit ‘Gary’ Wolswinkel brought the product to the attention of Murray Goulburn Leongatha manager John Couper.
Mr Wolswinkel saw the revolutionary product on a trip home to The Netherlands in the late ‘70s.
“I thought it would be an ideal product for Australia,” Mr Wolswinkel said.
But apparently it took a bit of convincing for Mr Couper to go for the idea.
“He said, ‘I don’t know, Gary’.
“I really put my fist on the table.”
UHT (ultra-high temperature) is a pasteurisation process that heats milk to 133 degrees for one second before cooling.
The process kills all the bacteria in the milk which enables it to be stored for about six months without refrigeration.
In the book ‘Just a Bunch of Cow Cockies: The Story of the Murray Goulburn Co-Operative’, UHT products were described by author Catherine Watson as having faced a lot of consumer resistance.
“UHT products were new on the market, and everyone had predicted some consumer resistance, but the extent and longevity of the resistance surprised even the experts,” it read.
“In the early 1980s, John Couper used to go to shows and watch the reaction to the sample packs from the Leongatha factory.
“People would literally screech and stand at arm’s length for fear of contamination.”
But eventually UHT milk became a popular product and farmers were happy.
“It added another market for the dairy farmers,” Mr Wolswinkel said.
“It has been something that has proved over the years to have been a good investment.”