Yoghurt The Answer For Diversity
For Wairarapa farmer Neil Potter, sheep are a source of something other than meat and wool - Greek-style yoghurt. He milks ewes to make cheese, and as a step on from that he has explored making yoghurt, as well.
Mr Potter, who farms nearly 400 hectares at Mt Bruce, south of Eketahuna, has developed a recipe for Greek-style yoghurt with the support of Technology New Zealand, which invests in research into new products, process or services.
"A few years back I decided that we needed to do more than just the traditional sheep and wool because the prices were low, costs were high, and farmers were going broke," Mr Potter says. "We needed to diversify."
He began to milk ewes for cheese, but wanted to expand the market. "Rather than duplicating what was already being produced, I thought of adding more products - unique ones that weren't being produced."
The result is Greek-style yoghurt. It needed to be thick, "so thick that you could stand a spoon in it, not like the weak cow's milk stuff you get and the spoon falls over".
A recipe and process was devised with the help of Massey University researchers. "A lot of work went into this," Mr Potter says. Yoghurt from sheep milk is a ready-made natural product. It doesn't need sweetening because it is already quite sweet, and he says it can help people who have allergies related to cows' milk. History shows sheep have been milked for far longer than cows. "Greek-style yoghurt is common overseas," Mr Potter says.
"Kiwis who've been overseas tell me they're familiar with it and have tasted it." As manufacturing plans have fallen through he is now looking for a production partner. "I've got everything - one of the country's biggest suppliers of specialty cheeses is keen to take the product - the sheep, the recipe, and the process."