Fairfield Farm in the midlands of KwaZulu-Natal is a 350 hectare farm where cows graze contently in lush pastures. The farm is the site of the Fairfield Dairy, a South African enterprise which began producing milk in 1991 and has quietly built up a client list of some of the country’s premier retailers, and is now their selected house brand packers.
Fairfield Dairy does not seek out attention. The company, which was built on the idea of producing superior quality dairy products, has found reaching that goal to be its own reward. Be that as it may, it is garnering well deserved recognition from its peers for its range of superior dairy-based products.
South Africa boasts dairy makers that are second to none. Since 2000, the National Dairy Championships survey and test the finest dairy product the country has to offer, and recognizes the cream de la cream, if you will, with their Qualité awards. A panel of 35 expert dairy technologists and scientists see approximately 770 entries in five separate categories: cheese, butter, yoghurt, cultured milk and ice cream. The prestigious Qualité mark of excellence is then given out to only two per cent of those entries.
Fairfield Dairy has consistently placed extremely high in this black-tie competition. Fairfield’s yoghurts have been awarded multiple Qualité awards, making a few more established players in the industry blush (Fairfield are Parmalat’s closest rivals this year with two awards). In addition to winning two Qualité awards in 2009, Fairfield products won seven out of the eight yoghurt categories that it competed in. It has received five Qualité awards in the last five years and 23 first prizes.
So what is Fairfield Dairy, and how did they come to be the Rolls Royce of dairy? For one, they choose to keep their quality standards high. To enable them to consistently manufacture superior products, they commissioned the erection of a new state-of-the-art yoghurt and dessert factory, which came into operation in 2007. The facility, which is probably one of the most modern dairy factories in the Southern Hemisphere, is HACCP accredited and export certified.
There is also a love for the product which is intrinsic in the Fairfield company. Barry Glanz, Fairfield’s Director of Operations, doesn’t want to disguise, or put a lot of packaging on, the products to make them stand out in the grocer. Instead, he has happily found a niche market, and let his products speak for themselves. “We do a lot of product innovation. We have a few dessert lines that are unique to the market, and we have a range of desserts coming out next year which will also have no equivalent in the South African market.”
Slowly and surely, more retailers sought out Fairfield to supply their dairy needs. Fairfield is able to provide their clients with raw milk sourced from herds which are never treated with rBST hormones, thereby arming customers with the right to choice and information on what they are consuming. The cows chosen by Fairfield Dairy and their suppliers are fed on grass pastures and have their diet supplemented with grains, pulses, and vegetable proteins, and are free of potentially harmful antibiotics and growth hormones in order to keep the taste pure. Quality and consistency are ensured from source to the final consumer.
Fairfield proves the old adage is true: slow and steady wins the race. By promoting quality over all else, Fairfield dairy has become the elite brand in South African dairy products.