THE Australian dairy industry had gone backwards in the past 10 years, according to Murray Goulburn managing director Gary Helou.
In a tough-talking address to a business networking breakfast convened by Murray Goulburn in Warrnambool yesterday, Mr Helou used his insight as an industry outsider to point out the industry’s failings and the aggressive change agenda Murray Goulburn intends to implement to overcome those shortcomings. Mr Helou was appointed Murray Goulburn’s managing director last October after leading the SunRice Ricegrowers Co-operative.
He said he was shocked to learn that national milk production had dropped 18 per cent during the past 10 years.
Most players in the Australian dairy industry had a “contracting view” whose main interest was in growing the domestic market rather than building up export markets, he said.
“Ten years ago we had a 16 per cent share of the world dairy market.
“Now we have five per cent of the world market.
“Five per cent is pedestrian. We have clear aspirations to turn the tide.
“We want to grow.
“That is the new language we are beating into our company and our shareholders,” Mr Helou said.
Murray Goulburn’s Koroit factory has felt both the advantages and disadvantages of the company’s change agenda with the axing of 30 jobs this year countered by a plan to double the plant’s butter production to 20,000 tonnes a year.
He said the company’s investment in highly automated butter production facilities at Koroit was part of its $200 million investment in dairy foods to provide what Asian markets wanted.
“I hope Koroit can play a bigger part in the dairy foods area,” Mr Helou said.
“It has a great culture, it has the space, it has the leadership to host more investment.”