Pass the Cheese Please - Halls Family Dairy
September 27, 2021
Some five years ago, a shift in supply to a major milk processor in Western Australia meant that several dairy farmers had no outlet for their milk, and subsequently went out of business. Seeing the risk in this, Phil and Suzanne Hall took the opportunity to investigate other ways to secure their dairy business. Along with their son Tavis, a 5th generation dairy farmer, they explored models to ensure a more independent, sustainable business future, that was less reliant on larger processors. This was the genesis for the Halls Family Dairy brand and the production of their unique, single-origin, premium artisan cheese.
Over 15 years earlier, the Halls had imported their first Normandy cattle semen, followed by Normandy embryos and had been meticulously building their herd to become the only pure-bred herd in Australia. This provided them with a springboard to launch into a premium market. They now have 170 cows, of six specialty breeds from all over the world, in their herd on their Wokalup farm. These are the cows that produce the milk for their gourmet, artisan cheeses including the unique French style Pont L’Eveque soft-washed rind cheese, Halls Suzette. They are the only farmers in Australia producing this high quality, and sort-after, premium cheese, which is a 100% local product.
The milk from their Normandy bred cows in particular, along with special French cheese cultures, is used to make the Suzette cheese in a traditional 8 inch square. Whilst the industry typically produces speciality cheese in a round pack, Halls Family Dairy opted to make their Suzette cheese in a square block, just as it has been made in France for hundreds of years.
Through the inception of their own brand, the Halls Family have significantly added value to the milk produced from their Normandy cows. They have also enjoyed the experience and had a great deal of fun delivering their cheese to many high-end chefs and restaurants throughout WA. While doing this, they enjoy sharing their story of producing good quality milk in WA, something which they have found so many people want to hear about. The chefs and customers like to know that the cheese comes from cows such as Suzette, Fifi, Rubeline and Oliviae as each of their Normandy cows have French names. They are all treated with special care, as the Hall family believes the happiness of their cows is at the heart of their dairy, and supports the quality and taste of their products.
Their customer base includes the likes of Rockpool, Voyager Estate, Mandoon Estate, Petition Kitchen at the Treasury and The Weld Club, as well as a host of quality markets, delis and cafes in Perth.
Looking ahead, Halls Family Dairy is broadening its product range to include meat products. They produce Halls Family Dairy beef, which is supplied direct to chefs and butchers who are looking for quality beef varieties. All male calves born to the Guernsey, Jersey, Shorthorn and Normandy cows are used for their dairy beef. The flavour of the meat and fat is unique and provides a point of difference that many chefs are looking for. The Halls are also in discussions with other outlets who are looking to source their milk and dairy products from the Halls Family Dairy farm. It may not be too long before this artisan dairy business finds itself no longer relying on a large milk buyer to determine their business success.
Having sampled the products himself, Milne Feeds Dairy Specialist, Dean Maughan, recommends trying the Suzette, Pont L’Eveque soft washed rind artisan cheese. It makes a delicious centrepiece for a cheese platter with a difference when hosting friends, family or clients. For details of where to purchase Suzette cheese from over 20 retail outlets in WA, visit the Halls Family Dairy Facebook or Instagram pages.
The Hall Family have been loyal customers of Milne Feeds for over 30 years and, as a WA family business themselves, Milne is pleased to support Phil and Suzanne through some challenges, and experience the successes they have achieved over the last five years. We love Halls Suzette too!