Eastern Cape dairies, which produce around a quarter of the country’s milk, make the province the country’s top dairy-producing region.
While the coastal conditions are ideal for milk production, the Karoo is also home to a plethora of happy cows.
Milk from the Eastern Cape is used in dairy products ranging from powdered milk to cheese, long life milk and yoghurt.
Brands associated with local dairy producers include Parmalat, Clover, Nestlé, Lancewood, Woodlands, First Choice and Coastal View.
Here are eight dairies in the region which have become household names with consumers:
Clover Dairy, which started out as a butter factory at Mooi River in KwaZulu-Natal in 1898, have grown to develop branches throughout South Africa.
The Port Elizabeth branch is based in Perseverance where the factory’s manufacturing facilities are geared for fresh pasteurised milk processing and packaging, as well as operations to process long-life UHT milk and other value-added products.
They also operate beyond South Africa’s borders and have a branch in Gaberone, Botswana.
Producing a wide diversity of dairy and consumer products, Clover delivers to 14 913 points in the country.
Coega Dairy, based near the Coega Harbour on the outskirts of Port Elizabeth, were created in 2010 when 13 Eastern Cape farmers decided to merge into a single operation.
The dairy officially opened for business in September 2011, supplying consumers with fresh dairy products using the ultra-high temperature process to ensure they remain environmentally friendly.
In April 2012, Coega Dairy added a butter factory and increased their capacity a year later to meet increasing demands.
Their products are sold under the Coastal View brand at selected retail and wholesale outlets in South Africa, while also being exported to other African countries.
Crickley Dairy have mushroomed from a two-man operation with five cows in 1980 to an organisation that serve the whole of the Eastern Cape with a variety of farm-fresh dairy products.
In the space of four years, Ken Clark’s 80m² square metre property in Indwe became the biggest producer for the Dordrecht cheese factory, producing 2 000 litres of fresh milk a day.
In July, 1984, Crickley Dairy were born, expanding to an 8 000m², high-tech factory in Queenstown.
With their growth in the last three decades, Crickley Dairy continue to produce milk, yoghurt and amasi for outlets in the Eastern Cape.
DairyBelle go back to the 19th century when they were established as SA Cold Storage.
They were rebranded Imperial Cold Storage (ICS) when Cecil John Rhodes and Leander Starr Jamieson bought the operation in 1902.
ICS manufactured ice-cream, chocolate, butter and cheese. In 1960 the DairyBelle trademark was registered for use on a range of dairy products, including yoghurt and fruit juice.
DairyBelle’s factories are based around the country and natural cheese, processed cheese and speciality cheeses are manufactured at factory sites at Cookhouse in the Eastern Cape and in North West Province.
Dawson Dairy operate on Kragga Kamma Road in Colleen Glen on the outskirts of Port Elizabeth.
They procure milk from farmers in the Uitenhage area and the products, under the Dawson Dairy brand, are processed for distribution to retail outlets in Port Elizabeth and Uitenhage.
They have facilities to package milk, cream and amasi.
Parmalat have been a major role-player in the South African dairy industry and distribute a wide range of products to retail outlets in the country and the rest of Africa.
The Port Elizabeth facility is based in Bennett Road in Neave Township.
Their products include cheese, yoghurt, milk, cream, flavoured milk, custard, butter, fruit beverages, ice-cream and drinking yoghurt under the Parmalat, Melrose, Galbani, Bonnita, President, Purejoy, Steri Stumpie and Aylesbury brands.
Sundale Free Range Dairy
Sundale are a private free-range dairy situated in the East London Industrial Development Zone.
They offer consumers a range of products such as milk, butter, yoghurt, dairy blends, amasi and juice.
A total of 12 farms situated within a 50km radius of the main facility on the coastal belt close to East London form the core of the business with cows grazing on rolling hills next to the sea.
Woodlands Dairy began life in 1995 as a packaging plant for milk produced on Woodlands Farm near Humansdorp.
From those beginnings, they developed into one of the largest manufacturers of UHT milk in the country.
They produce a wide range of products under the First Choice brand, distributing to outlets such as SPAR and Woolworths.
Caption: A number of Eastern Cape dairies have become household names with consumers across the country. Photo: Farm Watch