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Cold weather pushes up milk prices

The milk section at a supermarket in Nairobi. A spot check at a number of the big stores showed retail prices have gone up this cold season. Photo/FILE
The milk section at a supermarket in Nairobi. A spot check at a number of the big stores showed retail prices have gone up this cold season. Photo/FILE  Nation Media Group

Consumers are paying more for milk following a sharp decline in supply from key dairy zones in the country.

The 500ml packet of milk is retailing Sh5 higher in most supermarkets, and the trend is expected to continue up to September or October, according to industry players.

A spot check at Naivas, Tuskys and Ukwala supermarkets showed that the 500ml packet is selling at Sh45 while the same quantity on tetra package goes for Sh50.

The drop in milk volumes has been precipitated by the current cold weather which has seen reduced productivity of dairy cows amidst dwindling foliage supplies.

“In the months of July and August, we normally experience a drop in milk volumes as the cold weather affects the cows,” said Daniel Langat, the New KCC managing director.

Dr Langat, whose company makes the KCC milk brand, noted that the two key dairy production regions of Central and the Rift Valley have been largely affected.

Rift Valley produces much of the milk in the county followed by Central. Dairy Producers Association national vice-chairman Peter Lelei said it might take some time before normal production resumes.

“We expect the productive pastures for the animals to mature around October,” said Mr Lelei.

The Met has predicted that the ongoing cold season will prevail up to next month and termed the current low temperatures as normal for this time of the year.

“In September, we expect the chilly weather that we are experiencing at the moment to come to an end,” said Peter Ambenje, deputy director in charge of forecasting at the Metrological Department in a telephone interview.

Buzeki Processing Company’s managing director Kiprotich Bundotich said the firm had to increase the producer price to attract milk from farmers who have resorted to selling the commodity to hawkers.

Buzeki is the maker of the Molo Milk brand.

The firm has been paying farmers Sh31 per litre but has increased the producer price to Sh35 following stiff competition for raw milk from vendors of raw milk, said Mr Bundotich.

“We did not have an alternative other than hiking the producers price for us to receive sufficient milk from farmers, competition from hawkers was too stiff to bear,” he said.

Packaging materials

Mr Bundotich noted that milk hawking was thriving due to the fact that many low-income Kenyans cannot afford to buy processed milk owing to the high prices dictated by transport, packaging and energy costs.

He urged the government to reduce the 16 per cent tax charged on packaging materials, a move that he argues will play a significant role in curbing hawking and help more people access hygienic processed milk.

Brookside Dairies recently raised the producer price by Sh5 a litre to Sh35.

The New KCC is paying up to Sh37 for chilled milk coming from cooperatives and individual farmers. 

The producers’ association has urged farmers to embrace hay storage to cushion themselves during the dry or cold spells.

“In a year, the dairy sector is affected twice: during the dry spell and when the cold season sets in. We urge farmers to start storing hay for use in the dry spell to compensate for what we lose during the cold period,” said Mr Lelei.

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