THE earthquake that rocked New Zealand last month could open up a market for Australia's dairy farmers.
That's according to a buyer from Thailand's largest supermarket chain.
Central Food Retail vice president of buying Nick Reitmeier said he was looking at UHT milk suppliers while in Victoria last week.
"We bought our UHT milk from New Zealand but the Christchurch earthquake ruined their production facility so, from one day to another, our supply was cut off, so now we're thinking, 'OK, get the Aussies'," Mr Reitmeier said.
Dairy Australia international market manager Phill Goode said he was surprised the New Zealand earthquake had affected its dairy exports to Thailand.
He said exports of UHT milk to Thailand were controlled by Thai regulations and companies would need to be licensed.
"It would be a windfall opportunity if someone wanted to take it up but they're going to have to run the hard yards," Mr Goode said.
He said UHT milk produced in Thailand usually had sugar added to it to suit local tastes.
Mr Reitmeier said the majority of milk in Thailand was powdered and Central Food Retail was looking to import more whole milk.
"We want to import the whole product because we've found while the milk is not bad it always tastes not quite right," he said. "Between a normal chilled product and a UHT product today the difference is minimal, especially when you're in Asia and you're used to a packaged kind of taste any way."
Central Food Retails, which has 128 supermarkets across Thailand, buys fruit, vegetables and meat from Australia.
Mr Reitmeier said the quality of Australian produce was very high and the close proximity of Australia to South East Asia gave us a competitive edge.
"I think the only real competition I would say are the Kiwis, they're pretty good but they cannot compete with your size or scale," he said.
He said Australian farmers had a chance to tap in to a huge export market across Asia.
"You (Australia) have a unique opportunity to be the major player in Asia, two thirds of the world's population live in Asia, if you play your cards correctly there should be sustainable growth even when the mines run dry one day," Mr Reitmeier said.