QUF, known for decades as Queensland’s leading dairy processor and manufacturer was incorporated as Queensland United Foods in 1960, became QUF in 1969, before being renamed Pauls Ltd in 1998.
It was taken over by Italian dairy company Parmalat in 1998 and is now controlled by the French dairy company Lactalis. Its history, however, spans 90 years from the establishment of the Peters Ice Cream business in 1923 and later the Pauls Ice Cream and Milk business. These competitive and successful businesses merged in 1960 to form Queensland United Foods.
Over ensuing decades, QUF invested heavily in product development, packaging innovation and leading edge marketing practices and value-adding production. Famous product innovations include Popper packaged fruit juice; Hav-a-heart and Drumstick icecreams; UHT Milk (an Australian first); Breaka flavoured milk (market leader); Pauls Lactaid (Australia’s first reduced lactose milk); Trim Milk and Pauls Smarter White Milk. It also invested heavily in the training and development of its workforce which combined with good corporate governance, enabled it to be highly regarded by its shareholders, employees and dairy farmer suppliers.
As a Queensland public company, it developed an enviable record of producing reliable profits and returns and maintained a deep commitment to retaining its manufacturing base and headquarters in Queensland. This was a major factor in its resistance to the takeover offer made by National Foods which would have reduced the Queensland operations to branch status. The alternative Parmalat proposal not only provided a higher return for shareholders but retained the business operations and accompanying employment in Queensland. Included among QUF’s many successful leaders were Rod Wylie OBE, a long-term chairman, Ray Hill, who was a long-serving CEO and Sir Lionel McCray, the first general manager of QUF.
Using the strength of its performance in Queensland, QUF made significant inroads into Australia’s leading dairy market, Victoria, where it acquired 40 per cent market share as well as building a presence in other parts of Australia. It exported milk and dairy products to 30 countries and was the market leader in a number of these places including Hong Kong and Singapore. When dairy deregulation occurred in 1999-2000, QUF had been well prepared to retain a thriving business in a nationally competitive market.
QUF, but especially the Pauls brand, remains a Queensland icon as does its presence in South Brisbane where it has conducted business for over 80 years.