Jindi recalls extended after Listeria deaths

Cheese manufacturer Jindi Cheese is voluntarily recalling its products after reports of listeria infections causing the death of two people.

There are 18 cases of listeria across the country, linked to batches of Jindi cheese. The company is now recalling its cheeses from all batches manufactured until 7 January.

Eight cases of listeria have been identified in Victoria, six in NSW, two in Queensland and single cases in Tasmania and Western Australia. Two people – a Victorian man, 84, and a Tasmanian man, 44, have died of listeria infection, and a NSW woman miscarried.

In December last year Jindi recalled its Jindi and Wattle Valley Brie and Camembert cheese varieties in NSW, Victoria and Queensland, but these have now been upgraded and apply nationwide.

The list of recalled products includes:

  • 1) Wattle Valley 110g brie and camembert and Jindi 125g brie and camembert with best before dates up to 27/2/13
  • 2) Jindi 120g blue brie and 120g triple cream blue with best before dates up to 28/2/13
  • 3) Top Paddock and Blue Cow 1kg brie with best before dates up to 27/3/13
  • 4) Jindi, Wattle Valley and Harris Farm 200g camembert with best before dates up to 20/3/13
  • 5) Coles Finest triple cream blue 140g with best before dates up to 21/2/13

In a guest post on Food mag, HACCP Australia's Martin Stone and Michael Lincoln from Liberty International Underwriters give an insight into how food manufacturers can effectively manage a food recall, and how to minimise costs and reputational damage if such an event does occur. Read it in full here.

 

Dairy industry threatened by dodgy baby formula exports

An industry insider has said a makeshift Melbourne warehouse sending thousands of tins of baby formula to China is threatening Australia's dairy industry.

The Herald Sun yesterday reported news of a suburban Melbourne home sending up to 10,000 cans of baby formula to China each month, netting around $200,000 tax-free.

An anonymous milk industry representative was approached by those running the organisation, who wanted to buy 10,000 tins of formula.

The representative, who refused to fill the order, said, "This is a threat to the Australian dairy industry" and claims the internet-based company is being paid $65 per tin of Karicare formula – around three times its price here in Australia.

Australia is experiencing a shortage of baby formula after health scares in China have caused shelves here to be stripped.

It's believed the Melbourne warehouse, located in Clayton, may be linked to a similar scam in New Zealand, where similar practices have been cracked down on recently.

Warren Landt, export manager at Dandenong's OZDairy group, said Australia needed to follow suit.

"They have moved this from New Zealand because the government there did something about it," he told the Herald Sun.

New Zealand government officials are investigating the Melbourne warehouse.

Earlier this week Woolworths introduced a restriction of four tins of baby formula per transaction, to help ensure enough product for all customers.

 

Pay dispute at Victorian milk factory

A trade union body has been called into a Chinese-owned milk factory in Victoria after employees claimed they weren't being paid.

According to the Weekly Times Gippsland Trades and Labour Council secretary John Parker visited the Toora factory after employees complained they hadn't been paid for three weeks work in December.

Workers also claimed they hadn't been paid last week, despite their contract stipulating they must be paid weekly.

The workers were hired to clean up Visplus Dairy factory site, which is currently undergoing a $76 million redevelopment lead by Chinese company Funton Holdings.

Parker said after the visit the December pay issue had been resolved, but the union still had concerns about the company's plans for the factory.

“The Trade and Labour Council wants the company to go ahead and we will do what ever we can to help them,” he said.

“We want to sit down and talk to them about an agreement.”

If the redevelopment goes to plan the new site could create 150 new jobs in the region.

Manufacturers’ iodine avoidance linked to underpeforming students

A lack of iodine might be to blame for the lacklustre performance of Australia's school students, and food manufacturers could have a hand to play.

According to SMH, international test results show that Australia is placed at 27th in the world for year four reading, 22nd in science and 18th in maths.

An internationally recognised professor of medicine at the University of Sydney and expert on iodine deficiency, Cres Eastman, has said diets in top performing countries like Singapore, Korea and Hong Kong are rich in iodine thanks to salt iodisation and a diet rich in fish and seaweed.

SMH adds, "In contrast, he says a national survey of schoolchildren in 2003-04 has confirmed the re-emergence of iodine deficiency in Australia after an absence of almost half a century."

Food manufacturers could be playing a role in this deficiency, with the dairy industry ceasing to use iodine to sterilise milk bottles and the Australian food industry only making limited use of iodised salt in its manufacturing processes.

Despite regulations that all bread (excluding organic options) is required to contain iodised salt, consumers are reluctant to buy iodised salt for home use.

Iodine is a micronutrient essential for normal thyroid function and iodine deficiency is the world’s leading cause of preventable intellectual disability or mental retardation in children. For more information on iodine, click here.

 

Listeria fears cause Jindi to recall products

The week before Christmas, Jindi Cheese recalled its Jindi and Wattle Valley Brie and Camembert cheese varieties amid fears they may be contaminated with listeria.

The recall applies to all independent supermarkets and delicatessens in Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland who stock the following products:

  • Jindi Brie – 1kg
  • Jindi Camenbert – 1kg
  • Jindi Food Service Brie – 1kg
  • Wattle Valley Brie – 1kg
  • Wattle Valley Camenbert – 1kg

Food Standards Australia and New Zealand advised that those who have already purchased any or all of these products refrain from eating them and return them to the place in which they purchased them from for a full refund.

Pregnant women and their unborn babies, elderly people and those with low immune systems are more susceptible to falling ill following the consumption of cheese products contaminated with listeria, so it is encouraged that they be particularly weary.

 

Cheese manufacturing forecast optimistic: IBISWorld

Market research firm IBISWorld has predicted continued and sustainable growth in Australia’s cheese manufacturing industry.

“Growth will be mainly driven by a forecast economic recovery, stable dairy product prices and resurgence in demand from the developing world,” said Ryan Lin, an analyst at IBISWorld.

The last five years have seen “unprecedented commodity price volatility”, according to IBISWorld. Global dairy prices were pushed up in 2007-08 by drought and increased demand from south Asia, then this was reversed by the global financial crisis.

Industry revenue has crept up at an annualised rate of 0.4 per cent for the last five years. IBISWorld predicts that packaging innovations “in the form of functional, gourmet and health-based cheese products” will get consumers’ attention, and cheese tastes will become increasingly driven by health and premiumisation trends.

Australian cheese exporters have been seeing boosted demand from China, and the US Department of Agriculture recently predicted that global demand for dairy would be driven up.

New yoghurt plant to create 200 manufacturing jobs

Chobani Australia has opened its new $30 million yoghurt plant in Victoria.

The new factory located in Dandenong South was officially opened on 5 December by Chobani CEO and founder Hamdi Ulukaya and minister for agriculture and food security Peter Walsh.

Chobani acquired dairy company Bead Foods in 2011 and have extended the existing facilities, adding over 3000sqm of wet processing and cool rooms to the site.

The investment is expected to triple production capacity to over 30,000 tonnes of yogurt per annum.

To put this into context, according to Dairy Australia’s figures over the last five years average total production of natural and fruit yogurt in Australia is between 90,000 to 100,000 tonnes per annum.

Chobani CEO Ulukaya said Australia was the right place for the company’s first international production site because high quality inputs are readily available.

“We chose Australia as our first international market to launch Chobani because of its amazingly high quality milk, and we knew that Australians are passionate about great-tasting food. The completion of this facility is the realisation of a dream that I have had for some time now, and I am truly humbled by the warm welcome Australia has given Chobani,” he said.

The new plant has already created 50 new manufacturing and management jobs last year and the company expects to add another 150 new positions over the next three years as the factory reaches capacity.

Chobani expects the Dandenong South plant to act as an export hub, driving the growth of Greek yogurt and Gippsland Dairy brands into Asia.

Minister for agriculture and food security Peter Walsh said the new plant is good news for Victorian dairy farmers.

“This expansion is good news for Victorian dairy farmers who supply Chobani Australia, and it is a strong vote of confidence in Victoria's valuable dairy sector,” Walsh said.

The yogurt market has experience considerable growth over the past two decades.

Dairy Australia attributes the steady market growth to the product’s “ability to meet consumer requirements for convenient, healthy snacks in an environment of time-poor lifestyles” and regular flavour and packaging innovation.

 

New treats from Nestle’s Milkybar

Product name: MILKYBAR Big Rounds Milk & Cookies

Product manufacturer: Nestle

Ingredients: Sugar, Full cream milk powder, Vegetable fat (Antioxidant [309]), Cookies (11%) (Wheat flour, Sugar, Vegetable oil, Cocoa, Raising agent [500], Salt, Flavour), Emulsifier (Soy lecithin, 476), Flavour.

Shelf life: Approx 12 months

Packaging: Individually plastic wrapped

Product manager: Joyce Tan

Brand website: https://www.nestle.com.au/OURPRODUCTS/PRODUCT_NEWS/Pages/milky-bar-big-round-milk-cookies.aspx

What the company says
MILKYBAR Big Round Milk & Cookies combines the great creamy MILKYBAR taste with deliciously crunchy cookie pieces. The fun sheriff’s badge embossed design will make MILKYBAR Big Round Milk & Cookies a hit as an after school treat for kids– but they’re so tempting you might hide a few in your office drawer or high pantry shelf too!

With Christmas just around the corner, MILKYBAR Big Round Milk & Cookies are also an ideal stocking stuffer!

MILKYBAR Big Round Milk & Cookies are in store now, available throughout Australia at major supermarkets.
 

 

China’s richest man eyes dairy industry down under

Chinese billionaire Zong Qinghou is this month sending representatives down under, so he can have a closer look at opportunities in the south west dairy industry.

After an earlier visit in September when Qinghou was in talks on a site for a $200m milk powder processing plant, thewest.com.au reports a team from Qinghou's Wahaha Group will head down under in the next few weeks.

Agriculture minister Terry Redman said, however, that he's not sure of Qinghou's intentions, after reports he was considering investment in Tasmania's dairy industry because of its access to bigger herds.

"In trying to judge the investor interest I get the impression they want to see press-button ready projects," Redman said.

"To walk into WA and say, 'right, we want to get 30,000 dairy cows', or whatever it might be, and there are no 30,000-dairy cow dairies, then they see it as a bit complex."

There has already been strong Chinese investment in WA's agricutltural industry – something which the state supports strongly – with China's Bright Foods Group becoming the owner of the Margaret River Dairy Company and Fremantle-based olive company Don Vica last year, when it paid $400 million for a 75 percent stake in Manassen Foods.

China's biggest agricultural conglomerate is already buying farms in WA's south to create an independent grain supply chain to Chinese consumers and Shanghai Zhongfu was recently named preferred developer of land released under the Ord River irrigation extension.

 

NZ dairy farmers fined for discharging effluent

A dairy farm in New Zealand's Bay of Plenty has been fined $74,000 for discharging effluent into a waterway – the company's second such fine in 18 months.

Riverlock Farms and its directors Ian and Geoffrey Brown were found guilty of three charges: pumping underpass water containing effluent into a tributary of the Waioeka Stream, effluent flowing into the same tributary when an effluent pond overflowed and failing to comply with a court order to obtain a report about the farms contingency plans for effluent management.

Stuff.co.nz reports that the same company was last year convicted and fined $40,000 for discharging effluent from a pond and also from an irrigator where it could enter a waterway.

The most recent charges occurred just three months after the initial conviction.

Chairman of the council’s operations, monitoring and regulation committee, Malcolm Whitaker, said the level of the latest fine reflected the deliberateness of the discharges.

"A conviction on the breach of this previous enforcement order was necessary as the need to comply with a Court ordered direction is imperative. The company has spent in excess of $330,000 on upgrading their effluent system on the farm which was reflected by the Council not seeking a fine for that particular offence," he said.

Milking about 2,500 cows, Riverlock Farms is one of the largest farming operations in the Bay of Plenty.

 

On Cloud 9 with new Regal frozen yoghurt

Product name: Cloud 9 Frozen Yoghurt

Product manufacturer: Regal Cream Products Pty Ltd.

Ingredients: (Limocello flavour is used here as an example) FROZEN YOGHURT: FRESH MILK, FRESH SKIM MILK, LIQUID SUGAR (SUGAR, WATER), FRESH CREAM, LEMON CURD SAUCE (9.5%)[SUGAR, RECONSTITUTED LEMON JUICE, LEMON PULP, THICKENER (1442),ACIDITY REGULATOR (331), FLAVOUR, COLOUR (160a)], MILK SOLIDS, MALTODEXTRIN (MAIZE), DEXTROSE, ACIDITY REGULATOR (270), EMULSIFIER (471), FLAVOUR, THICKENERS (412, 410, 407), YOGHURT CULTURES.

Shelf life: Approx. 18 months

Packaging: Recycled plastic packaging

Product manager: Claire Scott

Brand website: https://www.cloud9frozenyoghurt.com.au

What the company says
Cloud 9 Frozen Yoghurt is Australia's newest, most indulgent super premium frozen yoghurt dessert.

Made with no artificial colours and flavours, and with healthier credentials than other frozen desserts with its live probiotic cultures, Cloud 9 Frozen Yoghurt is available in three different flavour combinations:

  • Vanilla Heaven – with raspberry coulis and chocolate fudge pieces
  • Strawberry Dream – with real strawberry chunks and biscuit pieces
  • Limoncello Bliss – with a lemon curd swirl

Making indulgence a whole lot more attainable for the Australian women, this deliciously decadent and luxurious frozen yoghurt is available across selected Coles and independent (IGA) retailers nationally from November 2012.

 

Dairy farmers’ new joint venture to churn out organic butter

Organic Dairy Farmers of Australia has teamed up with the home delivery food franchise, Aussie Farmers Direct, in a joint venture which will see the production of certified organic butter from a new manufacturing facility.

The $1.2m venture will include raw material handling, equipment and butter making machinery and will see the creation of a new butter processing facility, as part of an upgrade to the Aussie Farmers Dairy in Victoria's Camperdown.

Two different types of butter will be churned out: Aussie Farmers will convert its cream into Aussie Farmers branded butter packs, and a certified organic butter will also be produced using organic milk supplied by the 22 dairy farmers that make up the Organic Dairy Farmers of Australia. The latter will be sold under the Organic Dairy Farmers of Australia label and also under its second brand, True Organic.

Butter production is expected to kick off by the end of June 2013, if not before, and in its full first year should deliver between one- and two-million packs of butter.

Peter Skene, CEO, Aussie Farmers Dairy, said "We are incredibly proud to be partnering with Organic Dairy Farmers of Australia – they’re a very special group of organic dairy farmers and we appreciate the quality of supply and the credibility and expertise they bring to this joint venture.

"We believe our joint entry into the Australian butter market will not only benefit more local Aussie dairy farmers by providing a greater choice of buyers and volume of demand for their milk and cream, but will also help to support and strengthen the creation of additional jobs for the local community and give consumers the choice of a 100 percent Australian owned and produced butter range."

This is Organic Dairy Farmers of Australia's second direct investment in manufacturing in the past six months, following its joint venture with high-end French cheese maker, L’Artisan Cheese.

The joint venture will be music to the ears of dairy farmers across the country, who have struggled with cost cutting by the supermarket duopoly.

And it's not just Australian producers who are unhappy. Earlier this week angry dairy farmers in Brussels sprayed riot police and parliament structures with a fire hose full of milk, protesting agains unfair pricing systems. Read more here

 

Dairy’s best of the best announced

Dairy Australia's 2013 Australian Grand Dairy Awards were held earlier this week, with Lion Dairy and Drinks and Bulla Dairy Foods being named Grand Champions.

Twenty Champions were named across the awards' two categories – cheese and dairy – with the highest scoring product in each being crowned a Grand Champion.

Lion Dairy and Drinks' Tasmanian Heritage St Claire took out the cheese title, while Bulla Dairy Foods' Bulla Premium Sour Cream trumped all other competitors in the dairy category.

The panel of 21 judges spent two days testing 399 products – 153 cheese and 246 dairy products – submitted from 84 different companies around Australia – all of which are only eligible to enter the AGDA after being awarded gold medals at state competitions. Products were judged according to flavour and aroma, body and texture, and colour and appearance.

All winners are able to display the AGDA medal on their product, providing consumers with a tangible, readily-recognised symbol of the product’s quality and excellence, as well as confirmuing that they are buying Australian-made.

The 2013 AGDA Champion Cheese Winners are:

  • Champion Fresh Unripened Cheese – Cuore Blu Burrata, That’s Amore Cheese (Vic)
  • Champion White Mould Cheese – Old Telegraph Road Brie, Jindi Cheese (Vic)
  • Champion Semi-Hard and Eye Cheese – Tasmanian Heritage St Claire, Lion Dairy & Drinks (Tas)
  • Champion Cheddar-Style Cheese – Pyengana Cheddar, Pyengana Dairy (Tas)
  • Champion Hard Cheese – Mil Lel Superior Parmesan, Lion Dairy & Drinks (Simpson, Vic)
  • Champion Blue Cheese – Old Telegraph Road Heritage Blue, Jindi Cheese (Vic)
  • Champion Washed Rind Cheese – Jindi Reserve Washed Rind, Jindi Cheese (Vic)
  • Champion Flavoured Cheese – Mil Lel Superior Pepato, Lion Dairy & Drinks (Simpson, Vic)
  • Champion Goat’s or Sheep’s Milk Cheese – Red Hill Mountain Goat Blue, Red Hill Cheese (Vic)

The 2013 AGDA Champion Dairy Winners are:

  • Champion Natural Yogurt – Jalna Greek Natural Yoghourt, Jalna Dairy Foods (Vic)
  • Champion Flavoured Yogurt – Brancourts Premium Dessert Mango Yoghurt, Brancourts Pty Ltd (NSW)
  • Champion Ice Cream – Dooley’s Licorice Ice Cream, Dooley’s Ice Cream (Vic)
  • Champion Dairy Gelato – Cow and the Moon Pistachio Gelato, Cow and the Moon (NSW)
  • Champion Dairy Dessert – King Island Dairy Belgian Chocolate Créme Dessert, Lion Dairy & Drinks (King Island, Tas)
  • Champion Milk – Sungold Jersey Milk, Warrnambool Cheese & Butter Factory (Vic)
  • Champion Specialty White Dairy Drink – Norco Hi Lo, Norco Foods (Labrador, Qld)
  • Champion Flavoured Dairy Drink – Oak Egg Nog, Parmalat (Clarence Gardens, SA)
  • Champion Cream – Bulla Premium Sour Cream, Bulla Dairy Foods (Vic)
  • Champion Butter or Butter Blend – Western Star Original Butter, Fonterra Brands (Aust) Pty Ltd (Vic)
  • Champion Dairy Dip – Paradise Beach Pesto Swirl Dip, Paradise Beach Purveyors Pty Ltd (NSW)

 

Farmers spray riot police with milk

Angry dairy farmers in Brussels have sprayed riot police with a fire hose full of milk to protest unfair pricing systems they say are putting farmers out of business.

Protesters descended on the European Parliament ealier this week and “unleashed torrents of milk” as part of the violent demonstrations.

After dousing police farmers then turned their hoses on parliament, spraying down a collection of vast marble, glass, and steel buildings.

But they didn’t stop there.

Hundreds of tractors were also moved into Brussels as part of the protest, and barrels of hay and a pile of trees were set on fire, sending black smoke high above the city.

The European Milk Board organised the two-day demonstration, from 26 to 27 November.

The industry collective said current regulations had led to overproduction and put farmers in an “unbearable situation”.

“For a long time, milk prices have not been able to cover production costs and thousands of dairy farmers were already obliged to give up their farms,” it said.

Similar pricing mechanisms are hurting Australian dairy farmers, and just this month milk processor Lion said it would increase the price it pays farmers for their product.

Earlier this year Australian Dairy Farmers Association president Chris Griffin told Food Magazine the Australian industry would continue suffering as a result of the milk price war between Coles and Woolworths.

milk-protest.png

Image: Geert Vanden Wijngaert / AP

Gippsland Dairy serves up yoghurt with a twist

Product name: Gippsland Dairy Twist Single Serve

Product manufacturer: Bead Foods Pty Ltd

Ingredients: Milk, Sugar, Milk Solids, Yogurt Cultures.

Shelf life: 40 days

Product manager: Lisamarie Pejovnik

Brand website: https://www.gippslanddairy.com.au/

What the company says
Gippsland Dairy has introduced single serve tubs of their popular and award winning Twist yogurt range. The Gippsland Dairy Twist range is now available in smaller 160g tubs with a convenient spoon in lid for snacking on the run.

“Until now, our Twist yogurt range has only been available in larger 300g and 720g tubs, which are perfect for sharing. We wanted to give people another option by introducing a smaller portion size that can be eaten anywhere, at any time,” said Peter Meek, managing director of Bead Foods, makers of Gippsland Dairy.

“The new single serve tubs are designed to be enjoyed in one sitting and ideal for anyone looking for an indulgent treat at home or when out and about. The spoon-in-lid will allow people to enjoy our yogurt during the day at work and is also great for lunchboxes”, said Meek.

The Gippsland Dairy Twist yogurt is crafted using time-honoured techniques and traditions and contains no stabilisers, thickeners or gelatine. The single serve range will be available in five flavours including blueberry, passionfruit, mango blood orange, blackberry pomegranate, and smooth & creamy.

Made in Australia using Australian milk, and local and imported (seasonal) fruit, the Gippsland Dairy Twist range has become one of Australia’s fastest growing dairy brands. The Blueberry Twist was awarded the Champion for Flavoured Yogurt at the Australia Dairy’s 2012 Australian Grand Dairy Awards.

The new Gippsland Dairy Twist single serve range is now available in Coles, Woolworths and independent grocery stores with a RRP of $2.49/160g in blueberry, passionfruit, mango blood orange, blackberry pomegranate, and smooth & creamy.
 

Warnambool signs milk powder agreement with Mitsubishi

Warnambool Cheese & Butter have signed an agreement to supply premium milk power to Mitsubishi for the next three years.

According to the company, while the initial agreement is only for three years, there are provisions to extend the term.

The milk powders provided will be used in the manufacture of high quality milk based beverages and other dairy products for the Japanese market.

David Lord, WCB's CEO said the company is delighted with the agreement.

"WCB has enjoyed a mutually beneficial supply relationship with the Mitsubishi Corporation over the years and we are pleased to continue our association through this agreement," Lord said.

"This latest agreement is a direct result of our decision this year to upgrade our skim milk powder drier to enable production of higher specification powders, and reflects our stated strategy of targeting premium dairy productions and customer specific applications."

Mitsubishi's general manager of the dairy food unit within the Foods Products said the company "looks forward to working with WCB in this capacity and providing high quality, safe, and nutritious milk products to our customers in Japan".

The agreement came into effect on 12 November and includes exclusivity agreements by WCB, and annual volume and marketing commitments by Mitsubishi.

WA’s largest dairy farm up for sale

Western Australia's largest dairy farm is up for sale with a price tag of $30 million, and Chinese, Singaporean, and Malaysian companies have already expressed an interest.

Lactanz Daires, which consists of four farms near Scott River, supports over 4000 cows and has the largest dairy herd in WA, according to Farm Weekly.

It's also the largest single milk supplier to Brownes Foods.

The property is New Zealand-owned and Elders Rural Real Estate told Farm Weekly it was expecting strong interest from a number of international investors.

Image: ABC News

Maggie Beer slams supermarket dominance

Celebrity chef and food producer is the latest industry insider to accuse the major supermarkets of failing to support Australian food growers and manufacturers.

“So many Australians seek the cheapest alternative in food, and perhaps this is exacerbated by the big two [Coles and Woolworths], our duopoly, that pits one against the other in price wars, that see the farmer suffer. We have to do something about that,” she told the International Year of Co-operatives conference in Port Macquarie last week.

Beer’s pate, quince paste and ice creams sell through major supermarkets and independent retailers at a higher price than other comparable item, due to their high quality standard and use of Australian ingredients.

She said that while most Australians say they support Australian made and owned products, their purchasing behaviour proves otherwise.

''It's interesting Australians say they will support Australian-made and Australian-grown, but will we?”

“We support what's marketed most, and we so often support what's cheapest, especially with food.''

Beer was awarded an Order of Australia this year, after finding recognition for her cookbooks and television series focussed on cooking.

Beer has echoed the statements of Independent Queensland MP Bob Katter, who earlier this year told Parliament that the major supermarkets are killing our farmers.

''If we don't support our farmers, we will not continue to enjoy the freshness and the diversity of the produce we have now,'' she said.

''I have to say flavour, seasonality, ripeness, can not travel a long way.

Beer is in a good position to comment on the realities of farming, since she owns a farm in South Australia’s Barossa Valley with vineyards, olive groves, quince orchards and a soft fruit orchard.

“I know we live in a global market, but our local farmers can not compete against the imports of a global market when it comes to the cost of our labour.

''It's important that we pay a proper wage to a farm worker that not only sustains a family but sustains farming communities – whole communities.''

Terry Toohey Australian Dairy Farmers Director, told the Food Magazine Industry Leaders Summit earlier this year that the impact of Coles and Woolworths’ price wars will continue to drive farmers away.

"The retail actions are certainly impacting the dairy farmers in a negative way, this combined with the uncertainties and other factors [impacting] dairy or other farming, it's making it unattractive for the next generation, because it's not profitable for my children,” he said.

"If I was old and had children ready to take over the farm, I will tell them blue in the face not to come into agriculture.

“And that's pretty sad after 107 years on the one farm."

“It’s an unfortunate reality that milk price is a dollar.

“[It’s] simply unsustainable for all involved in the fresh food market.

“You can see the dairy farmers’ dairy families already suffering for Coles’ tactics.

“Given the sheer size of the supermarket duopoly, over 75 per cent of the market is between the two powers, and they are wielding that Australian marketplace and the majority of Australian suppliers, particularly to the fresh food industry,” he said.

“In NSW, my state, I see farmers being asked to sign contracts for 3 cents a litre than their previous contracts," he said.

“This will have astronomical effects on fund and profit margins.”

“In my case I’ll have 40 per cent of my tier 2 of milk [purchased] at 18 cents [per litre].

“The cost of products is 40 cents [per litre].

“So, you start to look and say, I’m only one person, there are 800 dairy farmers in NSW alone.”

Beer also joined the myriad of critics of Australia’s current labelling laws, saying they make it very difficult for consumers to understand which products are locally-grown.

''We were bottling some of our olives,” she explained.

“The salt came from South Australia and we had some of our own red wine vinegar in the jar and we were labelling it and then we found out we could not say 'Produce of Australia' because the jar came from overseas.''

Australian entrepreneur Dick Smith, who launched his own food company over a decade ago, has also voiced his concerns about the ability for local companies to compete against cheap imports.

“The freedom we’ve usually had in Australia is that you could go to a supermarket and decide if you wanted to buy Australian, imported, high-quality, low-quality, it was up to you," he said earlier this year.

“ALDI has taken that decision away.

“The problem is that because so many of us go to ALDI because the prices are cheaper, Coles and Woolworths will copy.

“The reason ALDI’s so successful is you can’t compare a price.

“What Coles and Woolworths will do to compete with that, which they must do because they have Aussie mums and dads as shareholders and the board will get the sack if they don’t keep making profits each year, so they will go to more and more products where you can’t compare a price.

"I call that ‘extreme capitalism,’ and it’s a disadvantage to consumers."

Do you agree with Maggie Beer's comments? How can we fix this problem?

Image: Australian Traveller

Victorian food and fibre exports worth almost $9 billion

A new Department of Primary Industries (DPI) report has found Victoria is Australia’s main exporter of food and fibre, up more than 10 per cent from last year.

The latest growth figures in the “Growing Food and Fibre Performance” report show that in 2011-12 Victoria exported $9 billion of food and fibre, up 11 per cent from the previous period.

The value of food exports from Victoria in the period was $7 billion, an increase of $745 million from the previous financial year, while the fibre products including animal fibre, skins and hides was up $164 million, valued at $1.94 billion in 2011-12.

Victoria made up almost 30 per cent of Australia’s total food and fibre exports, making it the leading state for the export of the products.

The report showed Victoria’s top food and fibre customer during the period was China, which imported $1.9 billion worth.

Japan was the second biggest importer at $816 million and New Zealand was third, with $484 million in export sales.

The report is part of the four-year Victorian government plan to grow the food and fibre export industry, which employs more than 141 900 Victorians and accounts for one in six jobs in regional and rural Victoria.

Of the food and fibre exports, dairy and grains were the most valuable, accounting for more than 40 per cent of the total value of food and fibre exports, despite Victorian dairy exports being down 1 per cent from the previous year to $1.93 billion.

Over 85 per cent of all Australia’s dairy exports come from Victoria, with milk and cream products valued at $940 million and cheese and whey products $699 million.

Japan was still the largest market for Victorian dairy exports, importing $428 million in 2011-12.

Exports to Singapore were valued at $190 million, those to China were $144 million and Indonesia imported $138 million of dairy products.

Victorian grain exports experienced a massive increase in value in 2011-12, up more than 60 per cent from the previous year to $1.81 billion.

Reported wheat exports were valued at $1.12 billion, totalling 62 per cent of Victoria’s grain exports, with Vietnam the most valuable market, valued at $233 million.

Meat export values were down $76 million from the precious year to $1.58 billion.

Victoria accounted for 20 per cent of Australia’s total meat export value.

Beef exports from Victoria decreased by 10 per cent to $606 million and sheep meat exports decreased by 8 per cent to be valued at $601 million. 

Sheep meat accounted for 38 per cent of Victoria’s meat exports in 2011-12.

Exports to the United States were up 1 per cent to $242 million in the period, while Japan and China also remaining significant importers.

Victorian animal fibre products were valued at $1.45 billion, an increase of 14 per cent compared to 2010-11, equating to 54 per cent of the value of Australia’s wool exports.

Chinese market can’t get enough Aussie cheese

Increased Chinese demand is going to mean a big boost in sales for Australian diary manufacturers, particularly cheese-makers.

The Australian reports that China’s demand for Australian dairy products increased 4.7 per cent to $291  million last year, with cheese up 22 per cent.

Meredith Dairy’s managing director, Rugby Wilson, was stunned at the increased exports.

"We were a bit stunned at the demand in China though we haven't yet turned it in to a reality," Wilson said.

Chinese incomes are rising, and the country’s demand for better-quality food is following.

Earlier the US Department of Agriculture released a report highlighting the boost in Australian dairy production after the drought’s end and strong rainfall in the last two years. It also pointed to the increasing world demand for dairy.

"Export-oriented processors [mainly in Victoria and Tasmania] are expected to step up production to meet world demand for dairy products," the USDA report stated.

Rabobank’s senior dairy analyst Michael Harvey said demand for cheese was strong all round, especially in China.

“The global market is growing at 2.5 per cent a year, but China is twice that," he told The Australian.

"It's from a small base, but it's a blistering rate in a very big market."

China’s food security issues are expected to become more prominent. It overtook the United States as the world’s biggest importer of food last year, according to The Australian Financial Review.