Cooks in some of Australia's most remote kitchens have been left reeling after a common outback staple — Devondale long-life cream — disappeared from supermarket shelves.
The UHT cream, which is known for its capacity to be whipped into firm peaks, was taken off the shelf when dairy processor Murray Goulburn closed three of its factories.
Although news of the closures was heard around the country, Alby Davey, from Chatsworth Station in north-west Queensland, said the unavailability of long-life cream took her by surprise.
"Sometimes it was [at the shop], sometimes it wasn't and then it was just gone. There's nothing now," Ms Davey said.
"Now we just have to cart extra Eskys in and bring home fresh cream, which certainly doesn't have the expiry date of the long-life cream, so once it runs out, you just don't have any."
As well as using fresh cream, Chatsworth Station, which is a two-hour drive from Mount Isa and feeds about 15 staff, has started using a lactose-free alternative.
"It's OK for the savoury things but you cannot whip it for cold deserts or anything cold," Ms Davey said.
"On the savoury side, I think it stays a little bit too runny for my liking.
"The Devondale thickened cream definitely makes it a lot more creamy and thick. It's a bit more of a sauce base."
A recent Facebook post by outback blogger Danielle Doyle addressing the loss of long-life cream went viral, reaching more than 350,000 people, showing widespread the loss was.
Ms Doyle, from Mittiebah Station in the Northern Territory, said she had been surprised by the reaction.
"People are passionate about their long-life cream — who'd have thought? — even city dwellers," she said.
"They must go home after weeks of not being able to get it and google long-life cream and see my post and that it's not available anymore.
Ms Doyle said readers had been posting pictures of possible substitutes, but none of them were a direct replacement.
"I haven't really tested [some of the replacements] but I do still have some cartons of the long-life cream," she said.
In response to the widespread uproar about the discontinuation of the long-life cream, Murray Goulburn has apologised.
A spokesman for the processor thanked loyal Devondale customers and urged them to contact its customer service team for assistance in locating alternative products.
"We understand this news is disappointing for our loyal customers, particularly those who live in or visit remote areas and require long-life products," the spokesman said.
"The difficult decision to discontinue Long Life Thickened Cream (among a number of other products) was made in 2017 as part of ongoing efforts to improve our commercial performance via a more focused product range.
"In addition, we have been required to reduce our manufacturing capacity in response to a significant drop in milk intake from farms.
"This includes the factory in Tasmania where Long Life Thickened Cream was manufactured, and unfortunately it was not cost effective to continue production of this product at an alternative site."