Bulla Dairy Foods was first established by Thomas Sloan as the Bulla Cream Company in Moonee Ponds, Melbourne. Thomas had invented a new method of thickening cream, pasteurising it by standing open cream cans in coppers fired by wood. He was joined in the business by other family members and the company is now operated by three inter-related families. It remains Australian-owned.
As the operation expanded, Thomas’s brother-in-law Hugh Anderson and Hugh’s brother Jack joined the business. Bulla is still run by the descendants of these three men. The first expansion involved the purchase of a butter factory at Drysdale on the Bellarine Peninsula southwest of Melbourne. Then, in 1921, the company bought land to build a factory in the Western District town of Colac.
In 1930 Bulla bought Colac’s local ice factory, which produced its own Regal Ice Cream. The Regal Ice Cream brand was continued in tandem with the Bulla brand for many years and today the parent company is known as Regal Cream Products (trading as Bulla Dairy Foods). The Moonee Ponds headquarters was relocated to North Melbourne in 1928.
Bulla Dairy Foods is the largest wholesaler of cream in the southern hemisphere and also produces ice cream, cottage cheese, soft-serve ice cream and yoghurt. In 2009, after Fonterra sold the Peters (WA) and Connoisseur ice cream brands to Nestlé, Bulla purchased their remaining ice cream business which included the Cadbury brand and, in Western Australia, the Brownes tub ice cream range.
Bulla remains a leader in the $1 billion-plus Australian ice cream market. In 2019 Bulla was the top-selling ice cream in Australian supermarkets, according to Roy Morgan research. In that year, four companies – The Peters Food Group, Regal Cream Products (Bulla), Unilever Australia and Norco Co-operative – accounted for an estimated 80.1% of the industry’s revenue (IBISworld, 2019).