Aus­tralia be­com­ing a net dairy im­porter

The Western Star - - RURAL WEEKLY - — By Peter Hem­phill

AUS­TRALIA may be­come a net im­porter of dairy prod­ucts within a few years.

Euro­pean food and drink strate­gic con­sul­tancy and re­search firm Gira has told dairy farm­ers and pro­ces­sors that de­clin­ing milk pro­duc­tion and ris­ing do­mes­tic con­sump­tion could re­sult in Aus­tralia im­port­ing more dairy prod­uct than it ex­ports.

Ad­dress­ing the Aus­tralian Dairy In­dus­try Coun­cil, Gira con­sul­tant and for­mer Fon­terra di­rec­tor Earl Rat­tray said Aus­tralia’s dairy ex­ports had re­mained flat dur­ing the past decade, while do­mes­tic con­sump­tion had con­sis­tently risen, with the gap be­tween each nar­row­ing.

Mr Rat­tray said Aus­tralia was fore­cast to have flat milk pro­duc­tion up to 2023.

“There is in­creas­ing do­mes­tic off­take,” he said.

“And if we look out to 2023, if some­thing doesn’t change Aus­tralia will be­come a net im­porter of dairy prod­ucts.”

Gira has fore­cast Aus­tralia to be the only ma­jor dairy ex­port­ing coun­try to show de­clin­ing ex­ports in the next five years.

Mr Rat­tray said the Euro­pean Union had be­come the world’s big­gest dairy ex­porter and would con­tinue to draw away from New Zealand in sec­ond place.

The EU is ex­pected to dom­i­nate world dairy trade by 2023, with more than

3.1 bil­lion tonnes of prod­uct shipped. New Zealand is fore­cast to ex­port 2.9 mil­lion tonnes of dairy prod­ucts, fol­lowed by the US on just more than 1.8 mil­lion tonnes.

Mr Rat­tray said it was an in­op­por­tune time for Aus­tralian milk pro­duc­tion to re­main flat or de­cline, with Gira’s fore­casts show­ing an ex­tra six bil­lion litres a year of milk was re­quired by 2023 to meet global growth out­side dairy gi­ants In­dia and Pak­istan.

“In the next five years, the traded world will con­sume 31.5 bil­lion litres more milk – or a bit more than three times Aus­tralia’s cur­rent pro­duc­tion.”

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