Dairy farmers lose Sh14.7bn on record milk glut

The quantity of wasted milk in 2023 rose to a four-year high of 290 million litres.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

The quantity of wasted milk in 2023 rose to a four-year high of 290 million litres, translating to an income loss to farmers of Sh14.7 billion, as dairy producers grappled with a glut that resulted from favourable weather.

Fresh data from the Economic Survey 2024 shows that the milk loss last year increased by 50 per cent from 193 million litres in 2022.

A milk glut occurs when farmers produce more than the market needs, forcing them to pour away the excess produce due to lack of storage facilities. Farm-level losses, which can take the form of spoilage, spillage and forced home consumption, are aggravated by poor transport infrastructure.

Such waste does not only lead to foregone income to farmers, it is also a threat to the country’s food security as milk is a vital source of protein.

Out of the 4.57 billion litres of milk produced last year, 6.3 percent went to waste, an increase from 4.2 per cent loss in the previous year, the survey shows.

In the review period, farmers were paid an average of Sh5,083 for every 100 litres of milk they delivered to the market, which means for the 290 million litres lost, the producers might have foregone Sh14.7 billion in earnings. This is an increase from foregone income of Sh9.1 billion in the previous year. In 2022, the 100 litres fetched about Sh4,720.43 in wholesale prices.

The glut continued into 2024 following heavy rains that resulted in improved cattle feed and thus high milk production.

As the El Nino rains pounded the country, the government announced that it would set aside Sh500 million to mop up the excess milk.

A big chunk of the milk produced in Kenya is absorbed by processors, who might not have capacity for excess production.

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