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Bulla Dairy Foods wins 2014 President's Medal

Posted on : 20 December 2016

WORDS: Alexandra Malfoy

Article first appeared RAS Times November 2014

A commitment to product excellence and an unwavering enthusiasm for their craft earned Bulla Dairy Foods (Bulla) the nation’s most prestigious agricultural accolade.

Bulla was the cream of the crop at the 2014 Royal Agricultural Society of NSW President's Medal, taking out the top honour to be named Australia's best food producer. A three-time nominee for the award, the Victorian dairy company won the accolade for their 35% Thick Cup Cream.

Bulla's James and Jenny Downey received the silver heritage President's Medal and $10,000 at an awards dinner at Sydney Showground on 21 August, 2014, in front of Australia's top food and wine producers. The black-tie event was held in the newly refurbished Stables facility, with guests treated to a unique dinner, created by guest Chef James Viles, of Biota Dining, and Tim Browne, Sydney Showground's Executive Chef, featuring all six President Medal finalists' products.

RAS President, Robert Ryan OAM, congratulated Bulla on being named the 'best of the best' in Australian food and agricultural production. "The President's Medal recognises Australian producers that create the highest quality products by sustainable means, which is an outstanding achievement," he said. "Bulla excelled in a field of more than 5,500 entries from around Australia in the Sydney Royal Wine, Dairy and Fine Food Shows, including 126 champion products."

Nick Hickford, Bulla's Sales Marketing and Innovation General Manager, said the industry recognition was an honour for the "entire Bulla family". "Bulla Dairy Foods showed excellence throughout all stages of the judging process to win this prestigious medal. Standing up against the nation's highest calibre food and wine producers is a tremendous honour and illustrates the dedication we have to producing the nation's best dairy products," he said.

"To win this award is a testament to the dedication of the staff at Bulla. We demonstrated industry leadership, passion for quality, an emphasis on sustainable business practices and progressive staff initiatives; this is an exciting time for Bulla, now and into the future."

The contenders of the President's Medal are six champions across the past year of Sydney Royal Wine, Dairy and Fine Food Shows. This year, Bulla was up against five excellent finalists: Kaczanowski & Co for its pastrami, Meredith Dairy for its fresh chèvre, Richard Gunner's Fine Meats for its Coorong Angus Premium Grade Black Angus, Watershed Premium Wines for its 2013 Shades Sauvignon Blanc and Morris Wines for its Morris of Rutherglen Old Premium Liqueur Muscat.

Simon Marnie, ABC 702 presenter and renowned foodie, has been a member of the President's Medal judging panel since the first award in 2006. As part of the judging process, he travelled to the finalist's properties with fellow judge, NSW Trade and Investment's Stewart Webster, to assess each producer's understanding of their social, environmental and commercial setting.

"Bulla impressed the judges this year with all aspects of their triple bottom line impact, but also with their enthusiasm and skills for their respective crafts," Marnie said. "The history of the company is incredible - the same three Australian families have been making dairy products for five generations."

Bulla is 100 per cent Australian family owned and has been run by descendants of three families in partnership since the 1900s. Bulla's Thick Cup Cream product dates back to 1910, when Tom Sloan established the company and was the first in Australia to invent a technique of thickening cream by standing open cans in coppers fired by wood, to denature the protein. Bulla has since modified this 'scalding' method, but still employs high heat treatment and smaller batch, boutique-style production to maximise quality.

Starting out as a small Melbourne-based cream company, Bulla now offers a broad range of chilled and frozen dairy products including cream, cottage cheese, yoghurt, dairy desserts, ice cream and frozen yoghurt. The business prides itself on delivering 'real diary' taste by producing products made from fresh milk, cream and other quality ingredients.

Bulla credits the President's Medal judges' questions with spurring them on to reduce their carbon footprint by 50 per cent with the introduction of their cogeneration plant. Bulla is also committed to looking after their staff and has introduced a well-being program, including health support, fitness programs and nutrition boosts. The company also recently partnered with the Australian Dairy Farmers Co-Operative to supply them with more than 90 million litres of milk per annum, continuing their commitment to sustaining local industry.

Nick Hickford said Bulla was thrilled to be recognised for their continuous drive to innovate whilst maintaining their heritage and traditional manufacturing methods. "We felt the judging process was well rounded and took into account not only our processes and the quality of our product, but also the Bulla company values. It was an honour to have been recognised for industry leadership, passion for quality, sustainable business practices and our progressive staff initiatives," he said.

The RAS President's Medal is an annual award that has been recognising Australia's best food and agricultural producers since 2006. Past winners of the award have included Tahbilk Winery, Milly Hill Lamb, Yalumba, Holy Goat Cheese, Paringa Estate, Country Valley, Hardys and Tathra Oysters.