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BMI Food Bites: Buttermilk and maas maintain growth trend

On the back of good growth in 2009 (5.7%), the collective South African buttermilk and maas category saw a healthy growth of 4.9% during 2010, reports BMI Research in its annual market quantification. The category appears to be largely unaffected by the recession and seems to have escaped the rationalisation seen for a number of other categories.

While producers of buttermilk and maas have seen input costs escalate, this has not been felt by the final consumer. Evidence of this is seen in the limited price increase (2.3%) recorded for the base year. Inflation in manufacturing costs have been largely absorbed by manufacturers and their attempts to keep their brands competitive within the market and, as a result, the overall category has remained competitive and maintained popularity during the economic crisis.

A primary objective for producers is to expand into smaller provinces in an attempt to grow both the market as well as market share. In addition, there are plans to export the product as ex-patriots look for familiar, authentic, South African products.

The outlook for the category is relatively positive for the short term, with a volume increase of 3.1% anticipated for 2011. Following this, the forecast is quite conservative, with a limited growth rate of 0.6% expected for 2012.

Background to maas and buttermilk

Maas is a traditional fermented milk drink of the indigenous people of South Africa, it has a smooth texture and a slightly sour taste. Maas is also known as “amasi”, which comes from the name for sour milk. This product is traditionally made in clay pots or calabashes with holes to drain the water. The bacteria on the surface of the container serve as a starter culture. In modern processing, a freeze-dried culture is added to the milk and then fermented until it reaches a certain level of acidity.

As with all other dairy products, maas is very healthy. It is packed with vitamin A, carbohydrates and proteins that the body needs to function well and stay healthy. The product is available in both the full cream and low fat variants. Maas is commonly used as a meat substitute where it is served with pap, it can also be enjoyed as a beverage. Other uses include mixing it with mashed potato and using it as a substitute for milk in baking.

In days of old, nothing went to waste in the typical homestead, and this included the liquid left behind after churning butter. Combined with natural airborne bacteria, this liquid thickened and soured, taking on a pleasingly tangy flavour. The resulting buttermilk made an excellent addition to biscuits, pancakes, and baked goods.

Read more about the growth seen for buttermilk and maas in BMI’s Annual Market Quantification (September 2011).

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