Did you know that Australia imported dairy products, equivalent to 23% of all milk produced last year?

Australia is promoted as an export nation when dairy is discussed, and its true, about 30% of the milk produced is exported as cheese, butter, skim milk powder and whole milk powder.

I have been watching / monitoring the Australian dairy industry for more than 20 years, and that is after working in the industry for 25 years. I like how the US Dairy Export Council presents their figures and have copied their format for Australian production, imports, consumption and exports. I calculated these figures based on “milk solids” paid for – noting that farmers don’t get paid for water, lactose and milk minerals.

Australia is touted as an Export nation, but is also an IMPORT nation – and by using the same calculation formulas – Last year, Australia imported the equivalent of 23.1% of milk produced compared with 31% of its milk exported.

I have checked with statisticians in the USA and they use a similar calculation, which is regularly published by the US Dairy Export council.  


What is interesting to compare is that the USA is consistantly importing about 4% of its milk production volume as specialist products – mainly from Europe and Exports about 16% of its milk as dairy products.

US, Exports and Imports as a % of milk production. Source US Dairy Export Council Dashboard

When looking at last years Trade map information – which uses sales value data, we can see that Australia has increased both its imports of Butter and milk products.


Imports of milk and butter are growing. Cheese is the largest traded product

(Search for dairy (HS code 04))

There are many ways of looking at this as milk is turned into many different products and mixes. I calculated it another way, using Australian Bureau of Statistics data provided by Dairy Australia. This time I looked at Australia’s dairy Fat and Protein Balance. This shows that Australia is not totally self sufficient in dairy fat and has an excess of dairy protein.

Australia’s dairy fat balance in 2019

Australia’s dairy protein balance in 2019

Are these statistics used in the long-term strategy for the Australian dairy industry? I wonder why they are not highlighted?

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