Fresh milk pipeline takes Australian milk to China

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 12th May 2014
Norco has completed a successful trial sending fresh milk to China

Australian dairy co-operative Norco has announced it has completed a successful trial shipment of fresh milk to China which will take milk from Australian dairy farms to Chinese tables within seven days.

The trial was run in partnership with dairy industry representative body Dairy Connect NSW and export consulting company Peloris Global Sourcing Pty Ltd (PGS).

Dairy Connect Chairman, George Davey AM, says the commercially viable cold chain pipeline will open the door for millions of litres of fresh milk exports to China each year.

PGS Dairy Connect and Norco, has implemented an unprecedented quarantine clearance agreement with China to bring the delivery time well within the shelf life of fresh Australian pasteurised milk.

“This opens the door for Norco to access the burgeoning demand from Chinese consumers for Australian fresh milk products,” said Greg McNamara, Norco Chairman. “The pipeline has the capacity to deliver more than 20 million litres of fresh milk to consumers in China within the first 12 months of operation,” he said.

Previous export efforts hampered by lengthy quarantine

Dairy Connect NSW said, to date, export efforts had been hampered by lengthy testing and quarantine processes before shipment from Australia – and again upon arrival in China. Accordingly, the export lead time for fresh milk typically ranged from 14 to 21 days, which did not fit within the normal shelf life for fresh Australian pasteurised milk.

The breakthrough came after 12 months of collaboration between PGS and China officials to develop rigorous quality assurance protocols that have now been fully tested and officially sanctioned by the relevant Chinese agencies. As a consequence, the PGS cold chain pipeline has been supported by changes to existing China import clearance procedures to accommodate the limited shelf life of fresh milk imports from Australia. A trial shipment of almost one thousand litres of quality Norco fresh milk was successfully completed in March 2014.

“The cold chain pipeline solution incorporates stringent quality assurance controls that ensure the fresh milk meets or exceeds China’s food health and safety standards, that the product is maintained at the optimal temperature at all times during transit, and incorporates an innovative product security system that identifies and tracks the location of individual units,” said Peter Verry, PGS Managing Director.

In light of the successful trial shipment, Norco said it has plans underway to commence commercial shipments of its full range of fresh milk products within the next few weeks.

Export channel welcomed by QDO

The Queensland Dairyfarmers’ Organisation (QDO) has welcomed the news that the process for taking fresh milk from Australian farms to China has become simpler and a step closer.

“This could be a real game changer,” said Brian Tessmann, QDO President. “This is especially the case for the northern dairy industry, including NSW and Queensland, where we predominantly specialise in fresh drinking milk production for the domestic market and currently have very limited capacity for other export avenues such as milk powder or cheese,” he said.

“With the news that Norco is planning commercial shipments of fresh milk soon, this will help open another, potentially major high value, export door for Norco farmers,” Mr Tessman said. “Most importantly, we hope that it starts the much needed path of diversification of markets for the northern dairy industry,” he said.

Mr Tessmann said that the industry was realistic that fresh milk exports to Asia would not solve the challenges facing the industry overnight, but he also pointed to the enormous potential in the growing Asian middle class.