Ben Evans, Saint David Dairy Fitzroy – 5 reasons a local dairy is better

Administrator 2016 Speakers

There used to be 27 dairies in Fitzroy. Then for a long time like the rest of suburban Melbourne there were none. Now there is one, Saint David Dairy, and it’s a roaring success.

In a move that seemed crazy to his peers, Ben Evans left his job managing ‘big milk’ to open a micro dairy in the heart of Fitzroy in 2014. With 5 generations of history in the industry, the Fitzroy dairy is the realisation of a life-long dream and a passion for producing a quality product.

We visited Saint David Dairy and spoke to Ben at length about his passion, how he got started, the challenges and the successes. This discussion will be played at the 2016 Future of Local Food Conference.

While we were there we learned a lot. Here are 5 reasons that local milk is better.

Reason 1: They’re picky

Each morning at 4am, Ben tastes and froths the milk he’s about to pickup and take to the dairy. If it’s not stretchy and just the way he likes it, it’s not coming with him. Only the good stuff goes into their milk, the rest can go to the big dairies.

Reason 2: It’s inconsistent

This might sound like a bad thing but it’s actually a good thing. The fat content of milk varies seasonally because of the weather, changes in the amount of available grass and when calves are being born. You’ll find Saint David’s milk might have 3.6% sometimes and other times 4.4%.

When you buy from a big producer you can expect 4% fat every time. Consistency is sold as a feature but we have the hot tip that it’s also because there’s a lot of money in cream, which is scooped off the milk.

Reason 3: It’s been tampered with less

Smaller production runs mean:

  • Less travel from the farm to your fridge
  • Shorter and thinner pipes through the machines
  • Less pressure during treatments
  • Shorter time in storage

Reason 4:  You can call the owner, anytime

Maybe this one isn’t so great for Ben, but being a small business means his customers have his phone number and email address. When they ring there isn’t a big phone tree of departments to navigate through. The owner answers his own phone and responds to his own emails.


Reason 5: It tastes better

There’s an increasing market for speciality milk. More than anything it comes down to the end product being better than the mass produced equivalent.

Fiona Parsons, director at Padre Coffee said it best: “There’s no point if you are going to buy the best, most expensive coffee, use the best, most expensive coffee machine, prepare it extremely carefully, to then mix it with milk that’s standard or cheap”

Our discussion with Ben Evans will be played in full at the 2016 Future of Local Food Conference.