Australia imports a record 3900 tonnes of US cheese in month

Australia became US dairy farmers’ second-largest cheese export market in August, behind Mexico, US Dairy Export Council figures show.

While Australia’s annual dairy production has slumped by 7.5 per cent to 8.95 billion ­litres, US dairy farmers and processors are lifting herd sizes and production as they prepare to push more milk on to export markets.

The USDEC’s “Next 5 per cent” campaign aims to lift the 15 per cent of the nation’s 95.6 billion litres of milk going into exports today to 20 per cent within three to five years.

That extra 5 per cent translates into an extra 4.8 billion ­litres flooding already saturated world markets.

USDEC president and former US Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said the campaign would tap into Asia’s growing middle class’s increasing appetite for dairy, especially cheese.

He said the USDEC aimed to put an extra 200,000 tonnes of cheese on to global markets within the next five years.

Traditionally, US cheese imports have been seen as low value, destined for the food service sector. But Dairy Australia’s analysis shows US imports were worth about $US4700 a tonne in 2016-17, compared with Australian exports earning $US3800 a tonne. It is only in the cheddar cheese cabinet that Australia processors outperform the US, generating $US3700 a tonne compared to the US imports worth $US3270 a tonne.

 

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