Information directory for dairy manufacturers and exporters

Whether you are considering dairy export opportunities for the first time, have been exporting dairy products for many years, or are simply curious about how the dairy export industry operates, this directory aims to help you find the information that you need.

Please note that links may change over time. If you discover a broken link, please let us know by contacting the Dairy, Eggs and Fish Program.

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1. Building your knowledge and skills through industry-specific training 

Food handlers and their supervisors must have the appropriate knowledge and skills to ensure that dairy products are manufactured hygienically and safely.

The Food Standards Australia New Zealand website gives an overview of the required skills for food handlers. You can also check your state or territory food regulatory authority website for information on suitable training options (for example, Safe Food Production QLD offers a series of free online training courses for dairy manufacturers).

Dairy Australia’s Manufacturing Resource Centre provides a comprehensive suite of training and learning resources specifically focused on the dairy manufacturing industry. It also includes links to alternative training providers that may offer courses relevant to your needs.

2. Getting started as a dairy manufacturer

If you are seeking to establish a new dairy manufacturing business, you should first contact the relevant food regulatory authority of the state or territory where the business will be located. These authorities have responsibility for the regulation of food businesses in their relevant jurisdictions, and as a domestic requirement, you will likely need to be licenced with them for approval to manufacture dairy products.

You can find more details on the following food regulatory authority websites:

You will need to ensure that your business is compliant with the relevant state or territory food safety legislation, including the applicable standards of the Food Standards Code. Our website can help you find resources on the standards and procedures relevant for dairy manufacturing. You can also learn about the preparations needed to meet domestic requirements by using Dairy Australia’s online self-assessment tool, Are You Trade Ready?

You may consider using an industry consultancy service to help you prepare your business (e.g. developing a comprehensive food safety program). You can search online for these services or seek guidance from your state food regulatory authority or an industry organisation such as Dairy Australia.

You can find more general guidance for setting up your new business at www.business.gov.au.

3. Bringing your dairy manufacturing business into the export supply chain

Getting prepared

As described in our step-by-step guide to exporting dairy products, you will need to have your manufacturing establishment export registered with the department before you can supply dairy products for export as food. Export registration is an additional requirement on top of domestic dairy manufacturing licensing  for establishments seeking to export (exemptions from domestic licensing requirements may be granted in some situations – contact your state or territory food regulatory authority to find out if an exemption may be relevant for your business).

If you are considering exports for the first time, or for a new establishment, you can review your preparedness using Dairy Australia’s online self-assessment tool, Are You Trade Ready? You may also consider using an industry consultancy service to assist with business preparations (e.g. developing a comprehensive food safety program or conducting export market research). You can search online for these services or seek guidance from your state food regulatory authority or an industry organisation such as Dairy Australia.

The export registration process

To become export registered, you need to submit an application to the department that includes your draft approved arrangement. Your ability to meet all relevant export and importing country requirements will be assessed by a departmental food safety auditor when they inspect your establishment. If everything is satisfactory, the auditor will approve your establishment for export registration. If not, you will need to fix any problems the auditor has identified and arrange for another audit to confirm the issues have been effectively addressed.

The export registration process can sometimes be complicated, so it is strongly recommended that you utilise the department’s free export facilitator service to help you understand the process and what is required before you submit an application for export registration.

There are also fees and charges associated with becoming export registered, which you can review in our charging guidelines. You may be eligible for financial assistance through government or industry grants. You can find information on available grants through the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Austrade, and Dairy Australia.

4. Meeting Australia’s export requirements as a dairy manufacturer

All dairy manufacturing businesses that prepare dairy products for export as food must comply with Australia’s export laws. This includes general requirements relevant for all food exports, as well as specific requirements relevant to dairy products. As previously noted in Section 3, a key requirement for dairy manufacturers is that your establishment must be export registered with the department.

Once your manufacturing establishment has been export registered, you must continue to operate in accordance with your approved arrangement. This will be confirmed through ongoing regulatory audits. If you need to make significant variations to your approved arrangement, you must first contact the Dairy, Eggs and Fish Program to request approval before making any changes.

If your export registered establishment is experiencing special circumstances that affect your ability to comply with particular parts of our export laws, you can apply to the department for an exemption from specific requirements. These applications are assessed on a case-by-case basis, and you will need to meet the eligibility criteria to be considered for an exemption.

If you are exporting your manufactured product directly, you must also meet your exporter obligations. This includes having the right documentation and certification to confirm that your products are eligible for export to specific destinations. You will also need to be registered as an exporter through our electronic Next Export Documentation System (NEXDOC), and you must make an export declaration to the Australian Border Force for each shipment.

You can find more detailed information on exporter responsibilities on our Dairy Exporters webpage.

5. Meeting the requirements of an importing country

An importing country may have requirements for dairy products that are alternative or additional to those stated in Australia’s export laws and food standards. Under our export laws, dairy manufacturers and exporters must meet these importing country requirements. Your approved arrangement must identify your export markets and the systems in place at the establishment for confirming that all relevant importing country requirements are met.

You can search our Manual of Importing Country Requirements (MICoR) to find known requirements for exporting dairy products to a large variety of overseas markets. Some importing country authority websites may also be accessible as an additional source of information on their specific requirements and regulations. It is recommended that you confirm any requirements with your importer. If your importer advises you of any other requirements affecting your products that are not found on MICoR, you will need to provide the department with written evidence from the importing country authority confirming these requirements. The department will then consult with the importing country authority to determine if these requirements can be appropriately met.

Our website provides detailed information on some of the key additional dairy-specific requirements of major export markets such as China and the European Union. Some importing country authorities may require that your establishment is ‘listed’ with them before your product is eligible for export to that country. You can use our export facilitator service for assistance in making an application for listing with an importing country authority, or if you need any further clarification on importing country requirements. 

6. Ongoing regulatory activities that will affect your business

If you manufacture dairy products in Australia, your establishment will need to be audited by your state regulatory authority to confirm that you are continuing to meet the requirements of the domestic food safety legislation and standards. You can check your state regulatory authority website for more information about regulatory audits including frequency and costs.

If you manufacture dairy products for export as food, your establishment will also need to be audited to confirm that you are continuing to meet export and importing country requirements. These audits may be conducted by the department or your state regulatory authority on the department’s behalf. You can check our audit arrangements to see which regulatory agency is responsible for these audits in your state or territory.

You will need to work with your auditor to resolve any non-compliances identified at regulatory audits. Failing to do so could result in sanctions being applied, which may include having your establishment’s export registration or domestic manufacturing licence revoked.

There are also fees and charges associated with ongoing regulatory activities and maintaining export registration. You can review the department’s fees and charges for export services in our charging guidelines. Similar information for domestic licences and audits can be found on your state regulatory authority website.

7. Exporting dairy products as a standalone activity

If your business is devoted to buying dairy products manufactured in Australia (by another company) and selling to overseas customers in commercial quantities, you are considered an exporter. Australia’s export laws will also apply to you. Our Dairy Exporters webpage provides detailed information to help you understand your responsibilities, including where your actions fit into our step-by-step guide to exporting dairy products.

You must ensure that you meet your exporter obligations. For example, you must only source dairy products from export registered establishments that are approved to supply your specific markets. You must be familiar with the relevant importing country requirements to ensure that your products are eligible for export to those markets, and you must also have the right documentation and certification to demonstrate this eligibility.

To obtain export permits and certification for your product shipments, you will need to be registered as an exporter through our electronic Next Export Documentation System. You are also legally required to make an export declaration to the Australian Border Force for each applicable shipment.

To support your export business, you can find information on international market trends, trade agreements and export strategies at:

As an exporter, you may be eligible for financial assistance through government export grants. You can find information on available grants through the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and Austrade.

8. Exploring new export markets

If you are interested in exploring new export markets, you can find information on international market trends, trade agreements and export strategies at:

You can also check MICoR to get an understanding of any known importing country requirements that might apply to your products and if you will be able to meet those requirements. You can review more detailed advice on meeting importing country requirements in Section 5

Remember that some importing country authorities may require that your establishment is ‘listed’ with them before your product is eligible for export to that country. You can use our export facilitator service for assistance in making an application for listing with an importing country authority.

Contact us

If you are not able to find the information that you are looking for, please contact the Dairy Eggs and Fish Program and we will happily assist you.

Last reviewed: 20 July 2021
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