Australians are cutting back on milk consumption for the first time in a decade, according to new figures published by the Australian Dairy Corporation (ADC).

For the last ten years, milk consumption has risen by about 1% per annum, but the ADC is blaming the effects of industry deregulation for the figures showing that for the first three months of the 2000-2001 financial year, milk sales were down 1.2%, to 1.438 billion litres.

Exports have increased in value by 26% in the first nine months of 2000-2001, but in terms of domestic consumption, year on year sales will drop by 26m litres.

The main cause behind the drop in domestic consumption is cited by the ADC as a fall in advertising, which has dropped in value by 26%. This is because no one filled that gap left by the ADC and state based milk authorities when the industry underwent deregulation.

Speaking to ABC Radio, ADC spokesman John McKew commented: “Like any other fast moving consumer good, or any other product on the shelf, when you’re not prepared to put some money behind it to advertise your product […] then you have to be mindful that this could be the result, a reduction in sales.”

Whole milk sales have dropped 2.6%. Sales of flavoured drinking milk are down 6.1%, and low fat varieties are down 5.6%.

Hot conditions in many dairy producing areas have also meant that farm production has dropped by 3.5% and the ADC expects final production for the year to fall by 300m litres compared to 1999-2000.