Dairy Australia - Dairy information for Australian Dairy Farmers and the industry

Primary content

Information on the production, sales, and trends for Australian manufactured cheeses.

Cheese

Australia produced approximately 337,000 tonnes of cheese in 2016/17 – down 2% on 2015/16. Production volumes were significantly less than early in the 2000s as milk production has declined since that time. Another significant factor in more recent years, has been the impact of dairy companies opportunistically changing their export product mixes to take advantage of favourable movements in international dairy commodity prices.

Cheese is a major product for the Australian dairy industry, utilising around 33% of Australian milk; and export sales of a further 167,000 tonnes, worth $847 million in 2016/17. Australia is now a major importer of cheese as well, with imports growing 26% in 2016/17 to 112,000 tonnes. Imports from New Zealand totalled 66,000 tonnes with the EU and US largely accounting for the rest of Australia’s cheese imports.

There has been a long-term trend in production away from cheddar cheeses and toward non-cheddar cheese types. The non-cheddar share of total production volumes has steadily increased from 30% three decades ago, to between 45% and 50% in recent years.

Japan remained Australia’s most important overseas cheese market in 2016/17 and accounted for nearly 49% of product exports, overwhelmingly of fresh and cream cheese varieties for processing. Other significant markets include Greater China, Malaysia, South Korea and Singapore. Australian cheeses were exported to 60 countries around the world last year.

The long-term trend away from cheddar cheeses and toward non-cheddar varieties is also evident in Australia’s cheese exports, with the non-cheddar share of total export sales steadily increasing from around 60% two decades ago, to more than 75% in recent years.

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