A major Australian dairy supplier has announced that they’ve experienced a huge 22 percent drop in milk sales in just the last year. Murray Goulburn, who are responsible for big Australian brands such as Devondale and Liddell, reported that sales had decreased to 2.7 billion litres, down from nearly 3.5 billion last year, and the trend is expected to continue.
As a result the supplier has had to discontinue products such as their infant formula and are currently shutting down three of their facilities which will result in approximately 360 people losing their jobs. Many brands have left the supplier, due to financial reasons, and have moved over to rival supplier Fonterra. Fonterra and Murray Goulborn are now neck and neck in terms of milk production. Murray Goulburn have attributed their need to pay farmers lower prices for their milk than other producers to economic and political changes.
However, there is evidence to suggest that there is an increase in the popularity of dairy alternatives and plant-based diets in Australia. In 2016, google search data suggested that Australians were more curious about veganism than anyone else in the world. It has even been speculated that Melbourne may soon be considered ‘vegan capital of the world.’
Health concerns in Australia seem to be the main driving force behind veganism, and as more scientific investigations take place, more evidence is emerging around the negative health implications of consuming dairy products. Dairy has been linked to increased saturated fat intake as well as autoimmune diseases. As obesity rates continue to rise in Australia, low fat dairy alternatives are likely to continue to be preferential to dairy.
Although not all of Murray Goulburn’s loss of custom is down to dairy alternative consumption, large suppliers beginning to struggle indicates that changing attitudes to food are beginning to have a very real effect. It is beginning to be widely recognised that plant-based diets promote good health and it is likely that Australia’s milk industry will continue to decline whilst plant-based diets are still popular.