MOO is one of the most trusted and highly awarded yoghurt brands in Australia. Co-founder Mick Sanders says his company’s relentless pursuit of quality and commitment to food safety are the keys to their success.
Mick launched MOO with his wife Sally in 2005 following a trip to France where they tasted thick, premium yoghurt of a quality that wasn’t yet available in Australia. They decided to develop an Australian made and owned premium yoghurt and the rest, as they say, is history.
And while food safety was a priority when the MOO story started back in the mid 2000s, this focus has grown in pace with the business.
“Fortunately, my background before MOO was working as a chef for Qantas Catering, and they had a very strong focus on HACCP and ISO, so I had some understanding of food safety and quality systems,” Mick said.
“And while we started small with MOO, our focus on food safety has elevated incredibly to where we are now.”
Early sales success in South Australia saw rapid brand growth, and national distribution followed. The company moved to a large HACCP-accredited manufacturing facility in Glynde and now MOO products are stocked in retailers across the country.
“We are constantly becoming more stringent with our systems, because this gives us better opportunity to do deals with big companies,” Mick said.
“When we first started, the shops we were selling to would fill in a form documenting the temperature of our fridges. And they’d do a temperature check on the product coming in. We went from that to Dairysafe accreditation, then HACCP accreditation, and then we brought in our own Quality Assurance Manager, Shakibeh Zadeh.
“We wanted to be able to supply big players like Coles and Woolworths and, eventually, we wanted to be able to export. We realised in order to do that, we needed to work hard on our systems. We’re now at a very high level of food safety, but we’re constantly looking for ways to improve.”
For example, there is always a QA person on the floor during production at MOO, conducting quality, shelf life and food safety testing at every point of the process.
Half of each day at the MOO factory is spent cleaning, both by hand and machines. Mick estimates the annual cost of cleaning, including staff time, chemicals, power and water, at $1 million.
“Cleaning and then validating the cleaning process is a huge job when dealing with dairy products,” Shakibeh said. “It’s something we simply can’t skimp on.”
And Mick says he doesn’t look to make savings in cleaning. “We recently had an opportunity to buy cheaper cleaning chemicals, but we decided not to, because we’re very happy with the results we’re getting, and it’s not a risk we’re willing to take,” he said.
“It would be a false saving because if we had to recall something, we know we’d be up for $100,000 in insurance excess alone, not even considering the damage it would do to our brand. Consumer trust in our brand is absolutely paramount. They expect consistency and quality and it’s our job to deliver it.”
That includes working with local dairy farmers to ensure the quality of milk being supplied matches the MOO philosophy. “We want to buy from farmers who have the same commitment to quality,” Mick said. “We have an approved supplier program and we audit all suppliers to ensure they meet the standards.”
The commitment to quality and hard work is paying off: MOO has been recognised for the quality of its products on a state and national stage over many years, most recently taking out the 2016 Food South Australia Business Excellence Award, and the 2017 Dairy SA Gold Medal for both the Creamy Smooth and Greek Style yoghurts.
MOO is now working on export plans, while continuing to invest in product innovation and development. “The future of the dairy and yoghurt industry in Australia is an evolving one. Consumers are increasingly interested in provenance. They want to know the brands they are supporting are using quality, local ingredients,” Mick said.
“And supporting the local Australian dairy farmers is an increasingly important factor in the minds of consumers. It’s an exciting time to be a premium supplier in the Australian food industry.”
MOO’s yoghurt flavour combinations include Boysenberry & Super Acai, Lemon Delicious, Banana Caramel Sundae, Blood Orange & Passion Compote, Blueberry & Maca Power, Coconut & Wild Hibiscus, Mango & Tumeric and Greek Style. MOO also produces a range of rice puddings in Traditional and Caramelised Fig. For more information about MOO visit www.moopremiumfoods.com.au