Kaipaki Dairies

May 2023

Delivering milk in sustainable, reusable containers at Kaipaki Dairies.

Fledgling dairy company, Kaipaki Dairies, has sustainability front of mind delivering farm-fresh milk to happy customers in reusable containers – glass bottles and pails – that are then returned to the factory washed and reused many times. 


The visual displayed on the trucks delivering Kaipaki Dairies milk is the sort of scene that greets many dairy farmers at the start of their day – wraiths of morning mist, pasture, cows, sun peeping above the distant hills, trees. But there is no room for daydreaming here. 


Across this bucolic tableau is the clear-cut message that gets straight to the heart of what it is all about for this 18-month-old Waikato company founded by John Heskett, his partner Claire Williams and Riley Chick. The bold letters read: ‘This truck is delivering milk in reusable glass bottles saving the planet one bottle at a time’.


It is not just bottles of milk the trucks deliver but also 10 and 20 litre pails of milk. The food grade pails are increasingly popular in cafés where they are kept in a fridge, connected to an on-counter milk tap for the barista to readily dispense from rather than reach for yet another plastic bottle.  


John, with a background in scaffolding and a penchant for entrepreneurial thinking – he championed the proposed Sky Garden tourism development in the Waitomo Caves region – came up with the sustainable milk delivery business model and invited Riley on board as co-founder. A hands-on kind of guy with construction sector experience, it was a no-brainer for Riley. He grew up on a dairy farm and is driven to give consumers a taste of the pure fresh milk he was raised on. 


Claire, who has a marketing background, has worked with the Launch Agency to develop an innovative marketing strategy while also becoming an extra pair of hands in the factory helping bottle the milk.  


Sustainability is central to all Kaipaki Dairies plans and implements. “Milk in reusable containers is the sustainable and better choice for our environment,” says John. “However, to be truly environmental the container needs to be reused as many times as possible – and so we’ve invested significantly in technology to ensure thousands of glass bottles and our pails can be washed, cleaned, and re-used.”


He says Kaipaki Dairies’ swap-a-bottle scheme allows any customer, family-sized or a business organisation, to join the sustainability journey. 


Café and restaurant customers opting for pails of milk that are connected to the stylish automated milk tap, developed by coffee aficionados in Australia, also appreciate that it delivers an accurate measure of milk, helping to reduce wastage – and improves barista efficiency.


“Every time our customers drink Kaipaki milk they know they are helping to save the planet and making a better choice for the future,” says John.


Currently, Kaipaki Dairies provides milk to customers across Waikato, from neighbouring Hamilton City to surf town Raglan on the west coast, around the Waitomo Caves area, and in the central Matamata region, as well as Taupo and Rotorua.


The 50-plus eateries customers range from major food and beverage outlets, including leading hotels in Hamilton, to tiny cafés housed in containers, such as Sabel, just up the road from the dairy farm that supplies Kaipaki Dairies with milk, and where the fledgling company’s new purpose-built factory is located.  


Many business organisations in the Waikato are also customers, amongst them the giant APL windows and door systems company that is headquartered in Hamilton and the Sky City Hamilton complex which has three taps. 


In the coming months John and Riley will take their milk, reusable containers, and their sustainability message to the Auckland, Bay of Plenty and Wellington markets.  


John estimates that in the past year alone Kaipaki Dairies’ reusable approach has removed about 250,000 two-litre plastic bottles from the milk delivery system.  


To ensure there is plenty of processing capacity as Kaipaki Dairies grows – and remove even more plastic milk bottles – they recently opened a dedicated factory on site on the Bardoul family-owned dairy farm that supplies them milk.


Paul Bardoul, who is now also an investor in Kaipaki Dairies, having been encouraged to do so by his children, who follow Kaipaki Dairies and its sustainability commitment on social media, is rightly proud of his high-producing American Holstein-Friesian dairy cows. He farms 600 cows on 280ha of lush Waikato pasture to produce 700 kgs of milk solids per year, with calving in spring and autumn to ensure year-round supply.  


Kaipaki Dairies follow a simple but strict pasteurisation process. “We simply heat the milk to 70 degrees to kill any bacteria and then it's cooled down for bottling, and that's it,” says Riley. “We mean it when we say ‘there is nothing added, and nothing taken away’ – and it’s all done the same day the cows are milked. 


John adds that baristas say Kaipaki Dairies milk is perfect for flavour, steaming and art making. “Some of the baristas we supply use our milk in coffee competitions with great success,” he says. One of those baristas makes high-quality lattes, flat whites and cappuccinos at Lykke Café, a thriving café and home business in Hamilton.


Feedback from other happy customers goes along the lines of ‘this milk tastes delicious’ and, ‘it’s in glass bottles which brings back memories of my childhood’.


For John, Riley, and Claire – and now Paul – these comments confirm they are doing the right thing, both by the cows that provide the milk and the dedication to deliver sustainably in reusable containers, not to mention the assiduous cleaning of thousands of the glass bottles and milk pails.  


See also: