Tracking the growth and distribution of Plant-Based milk?


Brenton Barker

8/4/20233 min read

We recently had a chat with Brenton Barker (Owner of Food & Dairy Co) about the distribution of Plant-Based milk and where he predicts the growth of plant based milks in this industry.

Q1. How long has food and dairy been operating as a cafe supply business and what products did you start with. Example Dairy/soy in the beginning ?

- Following the footsteps of Dad, Food and Dairy Co started out as a milkman like delivery service that’s primary purpose was to supply the café market with their daily Dairy requirements.

At the time, Soy was the extent of the plant based coffee options that accompanied the fresh milk and this predominantly spoke to those who for whatever reason did not want to drink cow’s milk.

Q2 When did Plant-Based milk really start to gain momentum in the Sydney Market and what were the catalyst for the steep growth curve?

-Statistics emerged in 2014/15 that Almond milk had surpassed soy milk sales in the US.

I remember at the time being surprised by this statistic as there had been no talks of demand, for any plant based milks in the Sydney market.

Excited by the idea of introducing something different to the Sydney market I embraced Almond Breeze and introduced it to our growing customer base.

The coffee culture in Sydney was on the rise and the excitement of an alternative option for the millions of coffee drinkers was the main catalyst for the fast growth this product achieved.

Q3. How did Food and Dairy Co leverage the plant base milk trend and form alliance with many suppliers?

-Food and Dairy Co’s ambition to be the number 1 supplier to the Sydney café market put us in the prime position to develop strong alliance with many of the key plant based milk suppliers.

Maintaining our ambition that our customer experience was unparalleled, which ensures that we are always the first call when new exciting products are developed and need introducing to the growing café market.

Q4. Moving forward now more plant-based foods are coming on trend how does a supplier help get plant-based foods onto the menu board in a cafe or restaurant?


The speed of success that we have seen in plant based milks, was largely due to the fact that it spoke to an already mature coffee drinking scene.

Some of the plant-based food options in the market right now are fantastic, but there is just not enough education in the market for people to be motivated to make the change.

Things like ‘The plant-based summit’ are wonderful initiatives to get science based facts behind some of the benefits that plant based products can have in the market.

The message needs to be aimed to the consumer not the restaurant/café owner. The educated consumer will lead the path.

Q5. The supplier has the one of one contact with the business owner do they use your business product knowledge to full advantage in your opinion and are you often do the job a brand owner should be doing.

This is something we are always working on. How can we communicate to and educate our customers better?

Both the brand owner and supplier have key roles in delivering messages to the decision maker of each business.

A huge part of FDCO’s success is our focus on establishing strong relationships with our customers from all avenues. Our Office administration, Sales & Marketing and drivers all have an important role here.

The strength of these relationships instil confidence in our buyers to embrace more and more of our offerings.

Q6. What’s the next plant-based food trend that you are seeing to happen in the hospitality market.

In the Milk space we are still seeing strong growth in the Oat and expect to see this category continue to grow.

I think as consumers become more educated we will see different variables begin to play a part, such as- Australian owned and grown, ingredients such as premium oil options instead of cheap harmful ones will begin to play factors.

Burgers I think are still the easy picking and I expect to see further interest in the plant-based burger category.

Q7. How is the overall hospitality market in your opinion is it bouncing back stronger and smarter.

Even with the challenges of interest rate hikes and significant increases on COG, the hospitality has bounced back and is still seeing confidence in the consumer spend.

I think the Aussie way of getting out and catching up with friends and families, combined with a very healthy coffee culture in this Country, has kept the hospitality industry and in particular the cafe space, very vibrant.

Brenton Barker
Food & Dairy Co
0424 961 209

Sean Edwards

Managing Director Sean has been involved in the Australian café industry for over 20 years. Originally owning several regional café businesses he became passionate about the growth of the world coffee and Australian cafe industries.

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