1 Key Facts

The dairy industry, covering farming, manufacturing and export, is Australia’s fourth largest rural industry, worth $13 billion , with a farm gate value of $4.8 billion. In 2019/20, Australia was the 4th largest exporter of dairy products globally with a 5% market share (Dairy Australia, 2020b) (Dairy Australia 2020) Australia’s 5,055 dairy farmers produce around 8.8 billion litres of milk a year. The Australian dairy industry directly employs 43,500 Australians on farms and in factories.
The NSW dairy industry is worth about $592 million in gross value of production in a total state value for agriculture of $11,678 million (Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2020; NSW DPI, 2020) NSW is Australia’s second largest producer of dairy products, accounting for 12% of the total. Annual milk production in NSW (2019/20) was 1.04 billion litres, a decrease of 3.5% over the previous year.
There are 534 dairy farm businesses in NSW, with an average annual production of 1.9 million litres per farm. The average milking herd size is 271 cows, producing 7,067 litres per cow each year. The NSW industry is based largely on the production of milk for the domestic liquid milk trade, with almost 65% of milk produced in NSW used for drinking. The other 35% is used for the manufacture of cheese, ice cream, yoghurt, and other fresh products.
The NSW dairy industry plays a key role in balancing the fresh milk market on the populous eastern seaboard. Bulk milk from farms in the central and northern parts of the state may be moved north to Brisbane or south to Sydney, according to supply and demand.
There are over 100 small dairy processors in NSW, who process over 100 million litres of milk per year for mostly local niche markets.