Hills & Coast Grant: Section28 Artisan Cheeses

The Hills & Coast Business Grant helped Section28 Artisan Cheeses bring production targets ahead by 1-2 years, while minimising product loss and production time.


Project snapshot


Adelaide Hills

Project contact

Steve Shotton
Regional Development Manager

Alignment with RDA strategy

  • Economic development

Grant Recipient Case Study – 2021 Funding Round

Section28 Artisan Cheeses has developed a reputation here, and abroad, for creating exceptional quality cheeses that reflect the terroir and seasonal conditions of the Adelaide Hills.

Based in Woodside, South Australia, Section28 Artisan Cheeses is one of the few commercial producers of raw milk cheeses in Australia. Launched in 2015, they have already won multiple awards, including National Champion at the Australian Grand Dairy Awards for both their raw milk cheeses.

Overcoming technical barriers

The challenge Section28 faced was in boosting the technical capability of both their production house and staff in order to fast-track growth and support ongoing innovation.

Throughout the cheesemaking process, testing and analysis is required at a number of stages to understand the nature of the raw milk and how it’s unique qualities may impact the development and outcome of the cheese it is used to make. Section28 would send milk samples to external laboratories for analysis, which could wait several weeks for results to return. As a result, the team was left relying largely on guesswork and trial and error when making time-critical decisions about how each batch of milk would impact their cheeses.

With more timely information, the cheesemakers at Section28 could have information at the right time to improve productivity and reduce losses associated with inconsistent product.

How the Hills and Coast Business Grant was put to use

The Hills and Coast Business Grant provided Section28 Artisan Cheeses the opportunity to purchase several important pieces of equipment to provide real-time information about the raw milk they were using and further analyse their cheeses at key stages. Additionally, the purchase of the equipment has reduced the cost of outsourcing testing to external labs.

Their equipment purchases included:

Automated Mini Titrator (pictured)

This equipment measures lactic acid, a fundamental element in cheesemaking. While measurements can be done manually using a pH meter, the titrator allows readings to be completed more quickly, regularly and accurately to minimise faults in the final product.

Rapid-read Milk Analyser

This tests the qualities of the milk for reliable, real-time information about the properties of the milk to allow same-day decisions to be made about the best cheeses to make with that particular batch in order to optimise quality and yields.

Halogen Infrared Moisture Analyser

This final piece of equipment purchased with the Hills & Coast grant funding analyses the moisture content of the finished cheese which is used to determine optimal storage conditions to produce consistent flavour profiles.

Real-time analysis of the raw milk, in conjunction with accurate data about the finished cheeses, is allowing the cheesemakers at Section28 to more confidently develop, produce and improve their range of raw milk cheeses.

Building on a recipe for success

As a result of receiving the grant funding to purchase their equipment, Section28 Artisan Cheeses has already seen product loss reduced from 10% to 2-3%.

Additionally, the equipment has seen significant reductions in the time required to improve existing cheeses, and more quickly develop new cheeses in response to market demand with the new Section28 Toma cheese launching at least 9 months ahead of schedule.

In terms of production and plans for the company, Director and Head Cheesemaker, Kym Masters believes they are now 1-2 years ahead of where they would have been without the aid of the grant to purchase the equipment.

Feedback on the Hills & Coast grant process

After being alerted to the Hills and Coast Business Grant through RDA Business Weekly, Kym said he found the process of applying to be quite straightforward and appreciated the opportunity for guidance throughout the process.

Kym Masters, explaining benefits of automated mini titrator to Anna Butler from RDA.

“If you have a genuine need in your businesses, then it’s definitely worth investing the time to put a high-quality application together.”

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