Dairy co-operative Norco wants to double its fresh milk exports to China.
The Northern Rivers processor is currently exporting between 20,000 to 30,000 litres to China per week.
CEO, Brett Kelly, says the next step is to increase the volume to 50,000 litres a week, but the long-term objective is to reach the 20-million-litre mark.
“We’re taking every step very slowly and very carefully so we’re making sure that we get the retail frontage representation in China correct,” he said.
“We’re right at this minute putting together another CapEx (capital expenditure) review for our board meeting in a couple of weeks where we’re looking at spending $1.5 million to $2 million specifically on a new filler machine that will be used on fresh exports, and we’re obviously monitoring our volume and growth.
“What we want to do is get the volume slowly and securely growing and locked in, and then what we can do from there is we can come back to our members keeping them updated and giving them the opportunity to continue to increase their production.”
The co-operative has more than 200 suppliers from the Hunter Valley in NSW to Southern Queensland.
Mr Kelly is one of 38 industry representatives on a trade mission to China this week with the Federal Minister for Agriculture, Barnaby Joyce.
“Norco’s position there is that we’ll obviously be meeting with more customers and continuing to build and grow the fresh milk export business,” he said.
“We’ve had a huge amount of enquiries, and we get that every day, but we’re dealing with about five that we see as key customers and they’re aligned strategically.
“We’ve looked at the online sales in China, which are very big, so we’re dealing with one customer there. We’re also dealing with other customers that are selling through the retail supermarket shopfront, but we’re trying to pick very carefully where we see the Norco brand be positioned.”