Australian Commodity Statistics Dairy 2009

Australian milk production has been increasing over the last 20 years. A fall in herd numbers has been offset by increased production per cow, according to the Australian commodity statistics for 2009, published by the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics. Summarised for TheCattleSite by junior editor, Charlotte Johnston.
calendar icon 2 February 2010
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The Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences


The Australian dairy herd has been decreasing since 1964, when there were 3,214,000 head of cattle. In 2009 there are only 1,645,000 head of cattle remaining. However milk yields per cow have increased gradually year on year. Over the last 10 years milk yields have increased by 20 per cent. The average cow now produces 5,707 litres of milk compared to 4,723 litres 10 years ago.

While milk production peaked in 2001-02 at 11,271,000 litre. In 2008-09, 9,388,000 litres were produced. Victoria was the largest producing state, and production has been increasing steadily.

Butter production has fallen steadily over the last 10 years. However there has been a 15 per cent increase in butter production in 2008-09, when 148,000 tonnes of butter was produced.

Cheese production has decreased over the last 10 years, with 340,000 tonnes produced in 2008-09. Cheese production peaked in 2001-02 with 412,999 tonnes produced.

Production of whole milk powder has also fallen, whilst despite a slight downturn in 2007-08 skimmed milk powder has remained fairly constant.

Australian milk prices

The average market milk price in 2008-09 was 42.4 cents/ litre. The price peaked in 2007-08 at 49.6 cents/ litre. The gross value of milk production in Australia was $3,981 million in 2008-09.

The retail price of milk was 177 cents/ litre in 2009. In 2008 it was 182 cents/ litre and in 2007 the retail milk price was 168 cents/litre.

Average cheese retail prices have risen from 1024 cents per kilogram in 2008 to 1089 cents per kilogram in 2009.


The value of Australian cheese exports decreased substantially in 2008-09, from $968.4 million to $796.1 million. This could be due to the total volume of cheese falling by 56,900 tonnes. Exports to Saudi Arabia and Japan plummeted, whilst exports to the US increased slightly.

Butter and butterfat
The total volume of butter and butterfat exported from Australia in 2008-09 was 70,400 tonnes. An increase from the year before. Exports to Egypt increased significantly. The value of these exports increased to $232.1 million.

Skim milk powder
Export value of skim milk in 2008-09 was $552.9 million, it is the biggest dairy product exported. Total exports amounted to 162,300 tonnes, an increase on the previous year. Exports appeared to fall in 2007-08 as Egypt and the Philippines imported less. However exports to both these countries improved last year.

Exports of casein have been falling over the last eight years. In 2002-03, 20,500 tonnes of casein was exported. In 2008-09 only 7,600 tonnes was exported. Despite the major decline in exports the value of these exports has not changed as much, falling only by $20.9 million.

Wholemilk powder
Exports of wholemilk powder increased from 81,600 tonnes in 2007-08 to 116,300 in 2008-09. Usually exporting to the Asian market, the increase of wholemilk powder exports was to countries outside Asia. The value of these exports totaled $475.3 million.

Other products
Exports of fresh milk increased by 1.3 per cent to 69.2 ml, however their value increased by 18 per cent. Exports of condensed milk increased slightly to 81,400 tonnes.

Cattle numbers

The total number of dairy cows in Australia in 2009 totaled 1,645,000. This number has been steadily declining . The majority of the herd resides in Victoria, which has 1,044,000 head of dairy cows. This is followed by New South Wales which had 198,000 dairy cows in 2009.

February 2010
TheCattleSite News Desk
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