Milk consumption up 5pc on reduced prices


Milk products at a supermarket. FILE PHOTO | NMG

Milk consumption rose 5.1 percent in the 11 months to last November as higher rainfall recorded during the year increased the output of the drink, which helped stabilise prices.

Data from the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) shows milk consumption totalled 730.87 million litres, marking an increase from 695.08 million litres during the same period last year.

The data tracks milk consumption in the formal sector. Therefore, it excludes informal consumers, estimated to account for about 60 percent of Kenya’s milk market.

Milk sales declined marginally in November compared to the previous month, but consumption was higher on average during the year compared to 2022.

The drink is popular among households consumed directly or used to prepare other foods such as milk tea. Food manufacturers also use it to make products such as cheese, butter and cakes.

Kenya Dairy Board CEO Margaret Kibogy said the rains had improved yields, leading to lower prices, even as she eyes the export market to boost returns for farmers.

“We have seen prices come down because the production of milk has been at a good level this year,” she said at the launch of the Kenya Dairy Industry Sustainability Roadmap 2023-2032 Report last November.

“In 2022, we were able to export dairy products valued at Sh5 billion. We are optimistic that we will double that this year (2023).”
A spot check on major retailers shows fresh milk selling between Sh49 and Sh56 for a 500ml packet.

Milk production in Kenya is about 5.2 billion litres per year, with an estimated 1.8 million smallholder dairy farmers who produce more than 80 percent of the milk.

Kenya received sufficient downpour during the long rains season that started in March, which ended the biting months-long drought that had pushed the agriculture sector into recession.

The rains brought bumped fodder which increased milk production thus raising sales of the product to 73.78 million litres in May, the highest in two years.

The onset of the El Nino rains in October also helped sustain growth, leading to sales amounting to a high 74.67 million litres.

A significant share of the formally sold milk locally is however imported especially from Uganda as Kenya has been facing challenges producing enough milk to satisfy demand.

Kenya’s dairy sector is estimated at 14 percent of the country’s agricultural gross domestic product (GDP).

Kenya's milk is primarily produced by smallholder farmers who account for 56 per cent of the total output.

Besides the dairy sub-sector, the sufficient rains also handed other agriculture sub-sectors a boost as production of crops went up, pushing the sector out of recession.

The sector, which is the single largest contributor to Kenya’s annual GDP, registered a growth of 6.7 percent in the third quarter of 2023 compared to a 1.3 percent contraction in the corresponding quarter of 2022.

“The improved performance was attributed to favourable weather conditions that characterized the first three quarters of 2023,” said KNBS.

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