Australian dairy group Norco expands into plant-based alternatives

Australia’s Norco Cooperative has joined the ranks of dairy companies including plant-based alternatives in their product range.

The business sells pea- and oat-based drinks at Woolworths stores in Queensland, Victoria and New South Wales, the cooperative’s home state. The products have an RRP of AUD5.50 (US$3.67).

Norco said its P2 Pea Protein Mylk and Oat Mylk give Australian consumers the opportunity to use an alternative to milk “without needing to compromise on nutrition or taste.”

Citing local Nielsen data, the cooperative said “40% of dairy consumers are now incorporating plant-based milks into their diets,” but added: “However, traditional non-dairy alternatives, such as almond milks and soy, generally lack the nutritional value and flavor benefits of real dairy milk.”

Norco has 281 “active members” of its cooperative on 190 dairy farms in New South Wales and Queensland. Combined, the farmers produce 200 million liters of milk a year.

Ben Menzies, Norco’s general business and strategy manager, said: “We know that more than 10% of consumers avoid dairy products as a result of various dietary restrictions and more than a third of loyal Norco customers also buy alternative milks. With that in mind, our plant-based milks offer a point of difference by presenting a fresh product, packed with plant-based nutrition, while also supporting a 100% farmer-owned Australian cooperative.”

In January, another Australian dairy group, Bega Cheese, said it was weighing its options to stay in the plant-based sector after accepting an offer for its share of a joint venture in the category.

Hong Kong-based Vitasoy International Holdings submitted an offer worth A$51 million (US$34 million) for Bega Cheese’s 49% stake in the joint venture between the two companies.

Bega Cheese became a partner in the company along with Vitasoy as part of the Lion Dairy & Drinks acquisition in 2021.

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James D. Brown
James D. Brown
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