Human milk supply in Australia

Julie P. Smith*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    16 Citations (Scopus)


    This paper aims to place as monetary value on the actual and potential supply of human milk in Australia. It estimates the quantity of milk produced in 1992. It considers different bases for determining a 'shadow price' for breastmilk, and uses the method established by Oshaug and Botten (Food Policy 19(5), (1994), 479-482). It also calculates scenarios for different prevalences of breastfeeding, looking at the implications on the human milk supply of Australia achieving its National Health Targets, of all mothers breastfeeding according to the optimum regime recommended by the WHO and UNICEF in the Innocenti Declaration of 1990, or of a return to the 'human milk famine' of the early 1970s. It concludes that Australian women supplied 33 million kg of breastmilk in 1992, compared to 16 million kg in 1972. Valued at A$67 per litre (the price of expressed human milk) the 1992 production level was worth $2.2 billion. This is around 0.5% of GDP, or 6% of private spending on food. Achieving international standards for 'optimal' levels of breastfeeding, with breastfeeding continuing up to age two and beyond, would nearly triple the supply of human milk.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)71-91
    Number of pages21
    JournalFood Policy
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - Feb 1999

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