MAXYM FASTEYEV, Lead Analyst Infagro: Will dairy prices really grow up?

Recently, there have been many publications forecasting the innevitable rise in prices for dairy products in the near future.

I would propose that the journalists writing on this issue would also take into account opinion of the dairy market analysts. My forecast is based on the real downward dynamics of the purchase price of raw milk in the first half of 2018 and the pricing policies for various types of dairy products. So, let us go:

BUTTER. This is the hottest topic of the past year. Everyone knows that the shelf prices are overcast, but that does not mean they will continue to grow. On the contrary, the dairy stock exchange quotations of cost of butter on the world dairy market cooled down at the end of last year. This means that Ukrainian producers, taking into account current high cost of production, have become economically not interested in exports. The domestic wholesale price of the product has already decreased, which means that soon sellers will start to actively struggle for the internal buyer, that is, for us. I have not analyzed the situation with the January shelf prices yet, but the current high prices will stay high until the end of winter (Maslyana holiday), then , price of butter will begin to decrease.

CHEESE. It is not that simple is case of cheese. In 2016, due to the low cost (but also a small margin) cheese makers enjoyed significant sales volumes and lack of import competition.
Last year, the situation changed: the sales prices increased, but at the same time sales volumes fell and there appeared a real threat of competition from Polish cheeses. Let’s see what will happen in 2018. I think that in the first half of the year prices will remain at the current level of ± 10%, but the number of discount actions in retail will grow. So, buyers should pay attention to discounts, which actually do not mean that cheeses are overdue, or something like that. It’s just a struggle for consumer’s choice.

FRESH DAIRY PRODUCTS – milk, yoghurts, sour cream, kefir and the like. First, let’s look at the year 2017. The prices for raw milk in the second half of 2017 on average were one third (!) higher than in 2016, while prices for fresh dairy products increased by 20-25% only at the end of the year. The buyer can say: “Yeah, now it’s clear what’s the gap between the raw milk cost and the price of the finished product!” Not at all. Dairy processors cannot afford raising the price of fresh milk products simultaneously with the increase in the purchase cost of milk even under conditions of free pricing, otherwise they simply lose the consumer. Therefore, the manufacturers of fresh dairy have long switched to the scheme “in winter – to minus, in summer – to plus.” They do it to not injure the consumer by jumping prices (hello to lobbyists of the idea of returning to “minimum prices”. Business has coped to manage the price deal without you!). Therefore, in general, fresh dairy products will not become cheaper. It is possible that even a certain increase in prices will happen for certain products. Also, no reason to expect for special, the traditional reduction of prices until summer.

I would also like to remind about the falsification. We must not forget that unscrupulous producers are present on the market and they do not indicate the actual ingredients they used in production. So do not let yourself be tempted by cheapness. The saying about free cheese and a mousetrap is quite applicable here, if it is not about the discount action. If you happen to see discounts, then buy a product from a proven manufacturer.

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