Export surge for dairy

Dairy exports during March and April 2012 resulted in SA’s dairy industry becoming a net exporter of dairy products for the first time in two-and-a-half years, according to the Milk Producers’ Association (MPO).

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In April, total exports exceeded total imports by 20 million litres, with total exports 8 million litres higher than total imports for the first quarter of 2012. All exports increased, with a sharp rise seen in exports of long life milk and yoghurt. MPO chairperson Dèan Kleynhans said products are mainly being exported by supermarkets such as Shoprite Checkers and Pick n Pay to Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia and Swaziland. “What’s exciting is that supermarkets are exporting our dairy products and it’s not the New Zealand company Fonterra bringing its products into Africa,” he said.

Total milk production during the first quarter of 2012 was 2,8% higher than during the same period in 2011. With consumption 5% higher, the MPO is “a bit worried” about production keeping pace with consumption. And hopefully prices will continue as they are for the next 12 months at least so producers can produce more milk, said Kleynhans. “The milk price is between R3,50/l and R3,60/l, a level at which farmers can pay their current accounts,” he continued. “There’s enough grazing and maize silage and, with increasing milk consumption, production conditions are more favourable than they have been for a long time.”

The increase in local demand and exports is expected to keep the supply situation tight for the rest of the year, as production slows in the winter months. “Hopefully when spring comes there will be enough dynamics in the marketplace for the primary and secondary industry to do good business,” said Kleynhans. SA Milk Processors’ Organisation CEO Alwyn Kraamwinkel noted a meaningful increase in the volume of raw milk production in the first four months of 2012, compared to the same months of the previous four years.

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“The quantity of raw milk produced in the first four months of 2012 is 3,24% higher than the same months of 2011, and 3,73% higher than the same months of 2010. The increase in raw milk production should be viewed as a reaction to the significant price increase of raw milk and reasonable climate conditions,” he said.