The Australian dairy manufacturing sector is diverse and includes farmer-owned cooperatives, public, private and multinational companies.
Farmer-owned cooperatives account for 33 per cent of Australia’s milk production. The largest cooperative is Murray Goulburn, which accounts for over 30 per cent of national milk output.5
Publicly listed companies include Warrnambool Cheese and Butter and Bega Cheese Limited, while Regal Cream (Bulla Dairy Foods), Burra Foods and Longwarry Food Park are privately owned.
Large multinational dairy companies have operated in Australia for many years and include Fonterra (New Zealand), Kirin (Japan) and Lactalis (France).
Hotel, restaurant and catering (HORECA) food
Australia is an established supplier of milk powder and cheese to markets such as Japan and Korea.
To remain competitive in the global dairy trade, Australia has spent 20 years investing in the development of a wide range of ‘functional’ dairy ingredients and innovative new products.
From the early days of blending sugar with skim milk powder to reduce skim milk powder tariffs, to blending whey powder with skim milk powder to reduce production costs for confectionery manufacturers, Australian dairy processors have become world leaders in the manufacture of dairy protein isolates for nutraceutical and pharmaceutical applications.
Australian dairy proteins are providing benefits to consumers around the globe. Users of Australian products and services range from bodybuilders seeking specialised protein products, to aged care patients requiring assistance with ensuring adequate protein intake.
Food manufacturers look to their dairy suppliers to assist with ingredients that not only lower manufacturing costs, but also provide optimal texture, mouth-feel, flavour, consistency, shelf-stability and production machinability.
Australian dairy technology expertise and investment in state-of-the-art processing equipment helps drive innovation in Australian dairy ingredients. Some examples of Australian innovation are:
- milk powders designed to provide a ‘caramelised’ flavour
- ‘high-temperature’ milk powders for stable application in
heated products such as Japanese canned coffee
- ‘plasticised’ butter for consistent machinability and
handling in the production of cakes and pastries
- low-oil and extra-stretch pizza cheese with a whiter colour
for American-style pizza applications
- non-hygroscopic skim/whey powder blends for consistent
application in drinking yoghurts.
Twenty years ago, Australian processed dairy exports were confined to a small range of butter, instant skim and whole milk powders, canned condensed milk, and some camembert and brie cheeses.
Today, the Australian product range extends to cream cheese, pizza cheese and cheddar cheese for home consumption, nutritional infant formulas and a wide range of Australian yoghurts (including drinking yoghurt, probiotic
yoghurts and children’s dairy-based snacks), premium ice cream, and increasingly, fresh and long-life liquid milk.
Australian dairy exports at the retail level have been relatively consistent in recent years. However, there has been considerable change in the type of products exported. These reflect changes in consumption trends, including increasing demand for convenient, nutritious snacks.
New products include:
- infant formulas fortified with whey proteins that replicate
- calcium-enriched dairy snacks
- shelf-stable yoghurt drinks for children’s snacks
- flavoured milks
- organic milk
- butter blends
- wide range of soft/cream cheeses available in
Most processors offer manufacturing services for private-label brands.
Australia’s distribution chain is enhanced by its efficient seaports and airports, world-class capability in refrigerated transport, and ready supply of a range of blast frozen, chilled, UHT and other shelf-stable packaging.