Business

Opportunity for dairy farmers to negotiate better milk prices

CHANGING LANDSCAPE: Norco chairman Greg McNamara addresses the QDO conference in Gympie this week.
CHANGING LANDSCAPE: Norco chairman Greg McNamara addresses the QDO conference in Gympie this week. Greg Miller

DIMINISHING land availablity for agriculture in Queensland, combined with our high population growth, is likely to put dairy farmers in a stronger position to negotiate for better milk prices in the not-too-distant future, this week's Gympie dairy conference was told.

Rising costs, the milk price war between Coles and Woolworths and back-to-back natural disasters had meant a brutal four years for local dairy farmers.

More than 100 farmers and industry representatives attended the Queensland Dairyfarmers' Organisation's biannual confer

ence in the Civic Centre on Wednesday, and heard from major milk processors Norco and Lion, and indpendent processors Maleny Dairies and Maleny Cheese.

Norco chairman Greg McNamara said retailers (such as Coles and Woolworths) controlled 60% of the fresh milk market in Queensland.

He said social media and retail data tracking was changing the landscape for farmers in a positive way.

Data tracking had revealed to retailers that, if given a choice, Australians would prefer to buy Australian products and to pay a higher price, Mr McNamara said. They would also prefer to buy on a regional basis, if given the choice.

Internationally, Austra

lian produce has a "phenomenal" record of quality and safety, animal welfare and sustainability.

This "provenance" was also referred to by Lion Dairy and Drinks managing director Peter West.

Mr McNamara said this reputation put Australian farmers - via Norco - in a strong position to successfully export top-shelf dairy products to China.

It would not be the low profit-margin products they would be going after, he said.

Also lifting the outlook for dairy farmers was the phenomena of Facebook and other social media, which was holding retailers such as Coles to account for their marketing claims about supporting local farmers.

"Commercial shipments of milk to China have commenced," Mr McNamara said.

"Sixteen Norco-branded products will be in curculation in China and the Phillipines within the next five years."

Topics:  dairy farmers milk prices

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