In good news for hopeful dairy exporters, the 3.5-year Dairy Export Assurance Program (DEAP) has begun, with the aim of smoothing the regulatory path to export success for processors.

Stewart Davey, DEAP Program and Market Access Manager with Dairy Australia, says while the Australian dairy industry and regulatory system has a very good reputation around the globe, becoming an exporter can be challenging for businesses navigating the regulatory compliance space.

The program has three major projects:

  1. Identifying the regulatory hurdles for domestic dairy manufacturers to become an approved establishment.
  2. Food safety in commercial assurance programs.
  3. Working towards reduced regulatory intervention through improved data.

“In the first project, we’re focused on understanding what the current state of play is for businesses wanting to become exporters. We want to understand the hurdles for people transitioning from being a domestic producer to an exporter,” Stewart says.

“There are differences in food safety legislation and requirements in different countries, including differences in audit and accreditation systems, which means what is required to be domestic producer compared to being an exporter is different, and not always clear. We’re working to identify the differences, the difficulties and the gaps, and smooth the path for others.”

Stewart says a major challenge for exporters is understanding the many international commercial accreditation systems, such as the British Retail Consortium’s audit and accreditation program which some markets require in addition to regulatory approvals.

“These systems are in addition to the processor’s domestic and export regulatory audit and accreditation programs, so a business could be subject to multiple audits a year by various customers and regulators – and each audit might look at the same elements but with a slightly different lens,” Stewart says.

“There is significant cost and downtime associated with this. Through the DEAP program, we’re looking for any overlap between commercial and regulatory audit systems and if there are opportunities to streamline them in a way that could possibly reduce audit burden and assist more dairy businesses to achieve their export goals.”

A key outcome of the program to date has been the development of the Export Facilitator Service, which provides free tailored advice to dairy manufacturers looking to become export registered.

The facilitator provides one-on-one support to new applicants to help them understand:

  • The process to become export registered and what they are required to do (including the audit process).
  • What they need to document in an approved arrangement.
  • Any technical components that will be reviewed at audit (such as the details of a HACCP plan, and structural, hygiene and storage requirements).
  • Any importing country requirements they may need to consider.

Another output of the DEAP program will be developing new resources and learning packages for dairy manufacturers interested in exporting.

“This program is the first major investment into the export sector for more than a decade and presents an opportunity to refresh the assurance process for dairy exports,” Stewart says.

”DEAP is seeking to create a modern regulatory system that maximises the use of technology, is based on risk and best practice, and that eases burden on industry across the entire supply chain.”

DEAP is funded by the Federal Government and jointly managed by Dairy Australia and the Australian Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment (DAWE).