Australian Delegation at the Dairy Expo, from left, Peter Williams – DataGene, Glen Barrett – Jersey Australia, Rohan Butler – Holstein Australia, Rob Derksen, Anthony Shelly & Genetics Australia Chairman Trevor Henry.

CHINA’S appetite for Australian dairy continues to grow and it’s not just demand for dairy products.
A recent dairy trade delegation of Australian organisations to the 2019 China Dairy Expo in Tianjin found opportunities to increase the number of live cattle exports as well as expanding bovine semen exports and a push for joint research.
Genetics Australia Export Manager Rob Derksen has attended the past five Dairy Expos in China as part of Australia’s National Pavilion arranged by Austrade and said the 2019 Expo was by far the most promising.
This year a “Team Australia” approach was taken with representatives from key breeding and industry organisations DataGene, Holstein Australia, Jersey Australia and Genetics Australia (GA).
Australia has been a minor exporter of genetics to China where the market is dominated by North American and, to a lesser extent, European exporters.
“It has been frustrating for GA that while the Chinese are very happy with the performance of Australian heifers, they have not had an opportunity to access top Australian genetics while US genetic suppliers have had significant growth.
“If China is to achieve the aggressive targets of its milk industry development plan, Australian genetics also need to be imported.”
In January 2018, GA appointed an exclusive China distributor and access to Australian genetics became a reality.
Exports of bovine semen have increased from zero in 2013-14 to more than 140,000 straws in 2017-18 and based on current orders the figure looks set increase.
GA’s distributor is based in Tianjin, so it was an ideal opportunity to promote the strengths of the Australian industry to visitors to the Expo.
More than 200 buyers
attended a Sino-Australia Breeding Platform Forum where Australian organisations presented on a range of issues.
The seminar was repeated around major dairy provinces in China. “There is a real appetite to know the strengths of the Australian cow and get access to Australia’s top proven and genomic dairy bulls.
“They see Australia as having a progressive and advanced breeding industry and the fact GA is a cooperative established more than 60 years ago is a real plus,” Mr Derksen said.
However, he said it had been challenging to show Chinese buyers an alternative to the US Holstein TPI index.
“US genetic companies have done an excellent job promoting TPI for many years, but we are beginning to get real traction with the Australian BPI as it includes many traits of real interest to Chinese farmers.”