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Consumer trends and industry threats: Australian dairy in 2030

Mail-order ice cream and dairy protein made in a science laboratory are threats facing the future of the Australian dairy industry.

And this lab-produced dairy could compete with bovine milk products on cost- with production of dairy proteins in a petri dish estimated to cost just 3c/litre.

Dairy Australia industry insights and analysis manager John Droppert told the first session of the 2020 Genetics Australia online conference that the competition plaguing dairy in 2030 won’t necessarily be what it is now – plant-based milks and production from other countries – instead, he said it could be more “left field”.

“What will happen if somebody can produce our product for a fraction of the cost and risk?” he said.

Cheaper products, produced “ethically” and offering “something different” will be what consumers in the year 2030 will demand from the dairy industry.

Mr Droppert said these consumer trends were already evident. For example, the popularity of housebrand $1 a litre milk and the pressure on the beef industry to reduce its hormone use or pork producers to use sow stalls, even if the practice increases costs for the primary producer and they  can’t be recouped from the market.

Underlying future consumer trends – what’s driving shoppers – will be a battle between food production fact versus fiction, according to Mr Droppert.

“For us, of course as an industry, facts are important and I think for the dairy industry that facts are on our side,” he said. “We have a nutritious product and it is good for you. But you could run an ad saying all those things, you can ram-it-down someone’s throat, but if their friend Karen on the internet says ‘milk is full of puss’ it is these kinds of things that keep getting traction, despite the facts.”

Butter sales prove facts can win, according to Mr Droppert with its “naturalness” winning consumers across from its rival margarine.