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USDA review of dairy market conditions in Australia and New Zealand

OCEANIA OVERVIEW: Autumn weather pattern are very prevalent in the Oceania region, although mixed conditions are being reported. In New Zealand, temperatures have been warmer than in recent years and moisture is lighter. These conditions are concerning dairy producers as moisture during the fall/winter time of the year is needed to ready pastures for spring growth. For the most part, the 2002 - 2003 milk production seasons has now ended and reports of a 2% increase over last season continue to occur. Although the most recent production season has just concluded, producers and handlers are already looking forward to the new season which is still three months away. Most of the uncertainty at this time is lack of moisture. Low water tables and reservoir volumes have quite a ways to go before producers and handlers will become more at ease.

In Australia, rainfall throughout much of country, especially in Northern Victoria, is being reported. Although the rainfall is too late for the current milk production season, moisture at this time of the year is greatly appreciated and will enhance conditions for the startup of the new production season in August/September. Production reports continue to indicate that over all milk output for Australia will be down around 10% when compared to last season. Producers and handlers are also looking toward the new production season with optimism. Most are not anticipating significant gains, but feel that output will remain steady with the current year and hopefully increase by 1 - 2%. Handlers also indicate that it will probably be a few years before milk production once again attains levels of the 2001-2002 production season.

Now that the milk production is at or very near seasonal low levels, orders are being filled from inventoried stocks. Handlers feel that they will have adequate volumes to meet commitments, but will have very little, if any at all, available for spot buyer interest. At this time, the recent subsidy adjustment announcement for skim milk powder in Europe is having little impact on product prices out of the Oceania region. Firm currencies against the U.S. dollar are probably more of a concern versus supply/demand. Strong New Zealand and Australian dollars are not impacting current shipments, but producers and handlers indicate that firm exchange rates will have potential impact on farmgate and product prices for the new season.

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