A South West dairy has begun selling "exclusive" milk in old-fashioned glass bottles - at four times the price of supermarket milk - to set its product apart in a tough market.

Spurred by the need to dodge supermarket milk wars and low returns on dairy farms, Bannister Downs near Northcliffe has launched its premium non-homogenised and flavoured milk in six select shops in Perth's leafy suburbs.

And it is charging $3.99 for 750ml, compared to $1 a litre for Coles home brand milk.

The boutique producers' owners Mat and Sue Daubney say dairy processers are looking to higher value products to survive the cut-price milk wars.

"The market is really tough, but the answer's not necessarily to cut prices, our approach has been a total focus on quality," she said.

Mrs Daubney said the non-homogenised milk was less processed and therefore more appealing to some customers.

The demand for the non-homogenised product led to the decision to put it in nostalgic glass bottles, rather than the processers' usual plastic pouches.

"It's just being sold to long-term customers and where we thought there would be a strong hold of suitable clientele," she said. "The demand has been really good, but it's just been word of mouth."

Glass bottles for milk in WA were largely phased out in the 1980s, but Mrs Daubney said there were no plans yet for recycling.

Bannister Downs processes about 4.5 million litres of milk a year, and is set to take an extra 2.5 million litres from a supplier, making the company WA's fourth biggest dairy processer.

The WA dairy industry has been a white milk drinking market, but processers are now trying to tap into the lucrative foodie set.

Big processer Brownes announced this week it had bought boutique yoghurt and cheesemaker CASA, in a move expected to help shore up WA's milk industry.

The West Australian

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