Volatility in milk demand and prices, combined with the uncertainty of the European and US subsidy programmes, have dampened demand among dairy farmers in some regions for capital equipment. Import restrictions in Russia have also fuelled market disruptions. But in China, DeLaval equipment continues to sell well, despite the economic downturn. This may be a result of state support for large-scale farms and self-sufficiency in dairy products – currently China is the world’s largest importer of dairy products, about 20% of world imports.
It might also be due to recent food safety issues there, creating a preference for high-quality and durable equipment – as well as service contracts covering training, maintenance and consumables.
Being dependent on importing thousands of cows from Australia, New Zealand and Uruguay, a key issue for China’s dairy industry is improving cow longevity as well as milk production. DeLaval has sponsored dozens of educational events globally on best practices in these areas. Participating in four conferences in China, DeLaval experts and executives, as well as invited scientists from US universities, shared research results focused on preventing mastitis, lameness, and reproductive problems. Other topics have included liner types and their impact on teat health, milk yield and milking performance. Teat dipping products and techniques are being developed that recognise the trend towards dairy farm sustainability, as well as local conditions regarding operational scale.
The special relationship between China and Sweden continues to bear fruit. In October, DeLaval signed a 10-year cooperative agreement with the Harbin Institute of Technology’s Agricultural Robot Group. The crowning touch occurred when DeLaval and its sister company Tetra Pak signed a five-year agreement in November with the Dairy Association of China to provide training to Chinese dairy farm managers. The signing ceremony was attended by both the Chinese and Swedish Ministers of Agriculture.
Under the agreement, 150 managers will be trained over five years, providing them with the skills to run larger-scale dairy farms. The training includes breeding, nutrition and disease prevention, delivered through lectures and internships at a model farm. The aim is to improve farming efficiency, increase product quality and enhance standards of animal welfare.