WA milk on Chinese shelves

Rueben HaleCountryman

The milk brand created by WAFarmers will soon be on supermarket shelves in China.

West Australian food products exporter Lifeland shipped the product, named WA Farmers Milk, to Shenyang in China last week, after the bottles were packed and labelled, then inspected by China Certification and Inspection Corp Australia.

After arriving in China, the milk — branded as WAFarmers First in Australia — will be cleared for sale after a destination port supervision by China Inspection and Quarantine Bureau.

The successful trial shipment now paves the way for a weekly shipment of milk to be sold by Lifeland to various department stores and online customers in the northern Chinese city of Dalian and Shenyang which is expected to begin by mid-April.

The shipments have been the final hurdle in a business deal that has been more than two years in the making.

The partnership between Lifeland and WAFarmers was officially announced in September, 2015, and it has been a race against time to land the first milk shipment, which will be the first time West Australian fresh milk will have been successfully exported and sold in Northern China.

Lifeland managing director Mr Sha Yi said it had been a very long and hard road to get to the business to the stage where milk is exported.

“There are very stringent milk import regulations that first had to be adhered to successfully begin the milk business in China,” he said.

“My company is now pleased to announce that by working in partnership with CCIC Australia, we have been able to not only successfully export milk to China, but cut down the quarantine and inspection into five days after the date of production that the milk could be cleared for sale, by using CCIC Australia’s inspection and traceability services.”

CCIC inspection supervisor Jacky Ning Peng, who along with colleague Benny Wang carried out the pre-shipment milk inspection and collected samples for quality pre-approval testing, said CCIC Australia’s inspection services could cut down on the time food is quarantined in China because they’re entrusted by the Chinese government authority.

“We are taking into account the application of the HACCP food process control points when doing the inspection, as part of this process we’re looking at every critical point along the milk cold chain supply line,” he said.

“Today we’re doing pre-shipment inspection and collect the sample for our quality pre-approval testing. And we collect samples to send to Australian labs for testing; the results will be used by destination CIQ to release cargo for sale,” he said.

Harvey Fresh site manager Stephen Italiano said he expected the WAFarmers milk would be well received in China.

He said the milk produced by cows grazing on fertile grounds in the South West of Western Australia made the milk extra tasty.

“Our milk also comes in fresh off the nearby farms everyday and it is hormone-free milk, which is tested for antibiotics at the factory,” he said.

“At factory level we have rigorous controls in and around our food handling practices that we adhere to the highest quality food safety standards.”

Plans are afoot for the Lifeland and WAFarmers to ship rolled oats, honey and meat to the city of Dalian in north-east China, which is already a major landing point for Australian beef and lamb.

It comes with the Free Trade Agreement with China set to cut import tariffs on produce including milk (15 per cent tariff eliminated within nine years) and honey (15 per cent tariff eliminated within four years).

Tariffs of up to 25 per cent on beef and sheep meat will be phased out over nine years and the 2 per cent tariff on oats cut immediately.

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