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

Australian cheese production increased 8% in 2017/18, to approximately 377,000 tonnes. This is close to the production volumes of the early 2000s.  Over the past decade, production volumes have been considerably less than in the early 2000s, as milk production has declined. A significant factor impacting production volumes in more recent years, has been the impact of dairy companies opportunistically changing their export product mixes to take advantage of favourable movement in international dairy commodity prices. In 2017/18 several dairy companies focused on cheese production as international price trends made cheese production attractive.

Cheese is a major product for the Australian dairy industry, utilising more than a third of Australian milk. In 2017/18 Australia exported close to 170,000 tonnes of cheese, worth $945 million. Australia is also a major importer of cheese and over the past ten years imports have grown 89%. Imports from New Zealand totalled 56,000 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 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 close to 60 countries around the world last year. Japan continues to be Australia’s most important overseas cheese market and accounted for close to 51% of cheese exports in 2017/18. 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 75% in recent years.

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