UHT milk consumption in sub-Saharan Africa on the rise

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According to dairy market specialist Proteus Insight, UHT milk consumption in sub-Saharan Africa has increased at an average annual rate of 22% since 2013. This is in marked contrast to overall static white drinking milk markets in Europe and North America. The company’s research investigated data from more than 30 sub-Saharan markets up to the end of 2015.

Global perspective

While 2015 saw a slowdown in percentage growth compared to 2014, overall consumption of UHT white milk reached close to 1,3 billion litres. A drop in global oil and mineral commodity prices in 2015 caused an economic slowdown across a number of markets, resulting in weaker performance compared to 2014.

Nevertheless, UHT white milk consumption across a region with close to one billion consumers increased at a more rapid rate than other regions. Sub-Saharan Africa was up 13% compared to 12% in Asia in 2015. According to John Meropoulos, Proteus Insight director, low oil prices have been beneficial in packaging innovation, he told DairyReporter, because it means plastic materials are cheaper.

Meropoulos compared the growth in Africa today with that of China in the late 1980s and early 90s. “When starting from a low base, it picks up at a quicker pace as they develop,” Meropoulos says. “In that part of the world [Africa], the expectations in some markets are higher growth rates because of the low base starting point.”

Tradition of milk

However, Meropoulos says that there is a marked difference between Asia and Africa, in that Africa does have a tradition of drinking milk that Asia did not. Meropoulos says that increasing urbanisation and expanding economies should create a concentration of urban consumers with higher disposable incomes, particularly in the super conurbations of Luanda, Lagos, Nairobi, Kinshasa and others, as the rural-urban shift across these markets is set to increase its pace over the next decade.

South Africa and Kenya were once the main centres of gravity in terms of production, but other markets are developing their own local production capacity and driving higher UHT white milk consumption. – Dairy reporter

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