Dairying Today

With annual exports in excess of NZ$13.7 billion, the dairy industry is New Zealand’s biggest export earner, accounting for more than 29% by value of the country’s merchandise exports. Around 95% of New Zealand’s milk is exported.

Characterised by quality and innovation, key strengths of New Zealand’s world-class dairy industry are the country’s efficient all grass farming system combined with large-scale processing, high research and development spending and creative marketing.

Dairy productivity has risen markedly over the past decade. In 1992/93, the average dairy cow in New Zealand produced approximately 259 kilograms of milksolids (kg ms) a season. In 2008/09, the average dairy cow produced 323 kg ms. This increase is the result largely of genetic gains and improved farm management, including improvements in stock nutrition.

The long-term improvement in productivity has coincided with an increase in cow numbers from 2.7 million in 1993/94 to 4.4 million (mainly Friesian) in 2008/09.

The industry, which employs 37,000 people, has been successful at diversifying both its product range and the number of markets it exports to, building an international reputation as a leading edge supplier of dairy products. These range from high quality basic products such as milk powders, butter and cheese to specialty foods such as ice-cream and highly specialised food ingredients such as spray dried milk proteins, protein hydrolysates and freeze dried biologically active proteins.

A growing trend is the development of functional foods such as low-fat, high-calcium and high-protein milk; and the development of biomedical and biohealth products, such as colostrums-based health supplements and products made from organic milk. New Zealand dairy products and ingredients are premium quality, with the industry complying with rigorous health and safety standards.

STATISTICS

Export value ($NZm)

Product YE June 2003 YE June 2009
Milk Powders 2,602 4,950
Butter 944 1,693
 Cheese 1,052 1,612
Casein 999 1,055
Total all dairy 5,807 10,402
(Source: Statistics New Zealand)

Major export markets include China, the US, Japan, the European Union, Malaysia, Australia, Philippines, Taiwan, Singapore, Belgium, Venezuela and Saudi Arabia.

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