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 381,000 tonnes of cheese in 2018–19, up 0.9% from the year prior. This is close to the production volumes of the early 2000s. A significant factor impacting production volumes in more recent years, has been dairy companies opportunistically changing export product mixes to take advantage of favourable movement in international commodity prices. In 2018–2019 several dairy companies focused on cheese production as international price trends made cheese production an attractive stream for revenue.

Cheese is a major product for the Australian dairy industry, utilising more than a third of Australian milk. In 2018–19 Australia exported close to 166,000 tonnes of cheese, worth approximately $987 million. Australia is also a major importer of cheese and over the past ten years imports have grown 60 per cent. Imports from New Zealand totalled almost 43,000 tonnes, with the European Union and United States largely accounting for the balance.

There has been a long-term trend in production away from cheddar cheeses and towards 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.

Australian cheese was exported to 56 countries around the world last year. Japan continues to be Australia’s most important overseas cheese market and accounted for more than 51% of cheese exports in 2018–19. Most of this cheese is fresh or cream cheese varieties for processing. Other important overseas markets include Greater China, South Korea, Malaysia, the Philippines and Singapore.

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 77% in 2018–19.                   

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