Revolutionary refrigerated logistics will trigger fresh milk boom from Australia to Asia

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 27th April 2015
Revolutionary refrigerated logistics will trigger fresh milk boom from Australia to Asia
Revolutionary refrigerated logistics will trigger fresh milk boom from Australia to Asia

Dutch logisitics and perishable liquids transporting company Trilobes has said its refrigeration technology could see Australia’s dairy industry drastically increase the volume of fresh milk it exported to Asia by boat. The new technology will offer the processors of Australian-sourced milk a much higher return than they presently obtain from powdered milks.

Diederik J.S Brasser, Managing Director of Trilobes and its subsidiary MilkWays Holdings BV (Milkways), has been reported on his company website as saying his has developed “integrated maritime “aseptic (ultraclean) supply chains” for the bulk transport of liquid milk, safe and cost-efficient”. These supply chains have already been used by the fresh orange juice sector to facilitate the export of millions of tons of orange from Brazil to the rest of the world. Mr Brasser said the system allows fresh orange juice, which deteriorates within days in a fridge, to be kept in good condition for “over a year”.

Mr Brasser said the new milk supply chains provided by MilkWays could transport up to 100 to 500 million litres of liquid milk from “efficient milk production regions” overseas to “milk deficit” regions. He said this would allow dairy processors in importing countries to produce ‘premium’ products with the fresh imported milk, and that by moving processing close to the consumer market, dairy processors in importing countries would be able to cater to local tastes.

According to Mr Brasser, only 8 per cent of fresh milk is exported around the world. Milk is still regarded as a “should be domestic product”, even though there are large differences in production resources and cost between regions.

Mr Brasser is also currently in Australia and his recent speech at the ‘Global Food Forum’ sponsored by The Australian newspaper was reported today in The Australian as mentioned below.

Australia could help meet China’s demand

According to figures from the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), by 2012, cow’s milk had become the most valuable agricultural product globally (US$187 billion, 625 million tonnes). Global demand for milk has grown steadily over the last decade and is expected to grow to 825 million tonnes by 2020. Mr Brasser said much of this demand is expected to come from developing countries in the Asian region, including China.

Mr Brasser said China has been very successful in expanding its milk production to around 37 million tonnes, but that demand was outpacing supply. He said the current shortage of 5-6 million tonnes of Milk Equivalent (ME) was expected to grow in the coming years.

“We see long-term relations between farmers in producing regions (ANZ) and local processors of milk (in Asia),” Mr Brasser said. “The long term would provide sourcing security for the buyer processor as well as income security for farmers. As these supply chains can be very well monitored, product safety can be guaranteed,” he said.

Mr Brasser, who is in Australia talking to major dairy companies about his milk shipping concept, told The Australian newspaper he estimated that supplying 500 million litres of fresh milk to China a year by a weekly refrigerated ship would not make a dent in the Chinese market, but would revitalise dairy production in Australia. He said that it takes less than four days to get a bulk perishable liquid from Perth to Jakarta, while milk could be shipped from Western Australia to Hong Kong or southern China in 8 days, and to Dubai in 11 days.

Other fresh milk shipments to China

Australian Food News reported in May 2014 that Australian dairy co-operative Norco had announced it had 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, said at the time that the commercially viable cold chain pipeline would open the door for millions of litres of fresh milk exports to China each year. To undertake the trial, PGS Dairy Connect and Norco, implemented an unprecedented quarantine clearance agreement with China to bring the delivery time well within the shelf life of fresh Australian pasteurised milk.

History of refrigeration expanding Australia’s export markets

Australian history includes other examples of new refrigerated shipping technologies supporting the expansion of export markets. In the mid-ninetheenth century, new refrigerated shipping technologies developed by Thomas Sutcliffe Mort created a new Australian export industry for Australian meat carcasses to reach Europe in good condition.

Although the nineteenth century story was about freezing the product rather than maintaining the freshness of liquid foods, Australian Food News notes it is a lesson from Australian food history in how a refrigeration-based logistics technology innovation.

In both cases, a new logistics technology can create substantial international markets for premium fresh products.