World-first technology to extend the life of raw milk to export it straight from the cow to South-East Asia is being pitched as an exciting opportunity for Australian dairy farmers.
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Tanks of dairy milk will be exported directly from Victorian farms to Asia as part of the state government-funded White Tide project trial.(ABC News)

Key points:

  • AgriGate says its new technology has extended the shelf life of raw milk to 23 days
  • The milk will be shipped to Asia in 23,000 litre pressurised tanks
  • A forward contract has been signed to supply 80 million litres of Victorian milk to an Asian country

Currently, dairy farmers have a 36-hour window to get their milk processed before it spoils. And that short time frame has prevented farmers in Victoria from tapping into export markets overseas.

The White Tide project trial will export tanks of dairy milk straight from farms in northern Victoria to South-East Asia for processing.

AgriGate managing director Peter Askew said the technology was game-changing for the Victorian dairy industry.

“We searched the world looking at ways to fulfil the opportunities for exports and we weren’t able to find anything that has the capability of what we’ve developed here,” he said.

Mr Askew said the world-first technology had been patented.

“Effectively we pick it up in a 23,000 litre [pressurised] tank … we put it on the boat, we ship it up to various locations across Asia, and we then process it and value-add it in those countries.”

Close up of milk being poured into a glass, against a bright blue background.
Currently, dairy farmers have a 36-hour window to get their milk processed before it spoils but new technology extends the shelf life of raw milk to 23 days.(Pixabay: StockSnap)

Mr Askew said the higher prices being paid in Asian countries for Australian milk would be passed directly back to Victorian farmers who had already been signed up to supply the milk.

“The current application that we have is backed by a forward contract of 80 million litres into a major Asian country and we’re currently negotiating other major forward contracts as well, so it is a significant volume that we are talking about,” Mr Askew said.

But there is a hurdle to jump because in Australia raw milk is unable to be sold directly to consumers.

“We’re right in the middle of finalising negotiations with the Australian government to allow us to export it,” Mr Askew said.

“We have received the accreditation for our first Asian country and we are in negotiations with two other Asian countries at the moment to be able to bring this milk in.”

The milk will be marketed to Asian consumers in a personal way, by telling the story of the dairy from where it is sourced.

Dairy cows in a paddock
Raw milk will be collected from farms in 23,000-litre pressurised tanks to be shipped to Asia.(ABC News: Adrienne Francis)

Northern dairy resurgence

Victoria accounts for almost 70 per cent of the $13 billion Australian dairy industry, and one-third of Victoria’s milk production comes from northern Victoria.

Jenny Wilson from Murray Dairy said the northern Victorian dairy region had struggled through a difficult decade and the new technology to keep raw milk fresher for longer would form an important part of the rebuild for the sector.

“We know the demand for good quality Australian milk is continuing to grow across the Asian markets,” Ms Wilson said.

“It really comes on the back of the past two years. We’ve had a real change in our fortunes, we’ve had some fantastic seasonal conditions, and we’ve been getting record-high milk prices being paid, so our region is really in a recovery, rebuild phase.”

General Mills Foodservice is stepping up its presence at this year’s International Pizza Expo, taking place March 28-30 at the Las Vegas Convention Center. In addition to expanding access to its popular Pizza Crust Boot Camp featuring the Doughminators, its dedicated dough experts, the company will feature dough demonstrations throughout the expo (booth #807) and showcase its newly acquired line of high-quality frozen pizza crusts from TNT Crust (booth #1353).

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