Milk industry is not dwindling – MPO

The expansion of South Africa’s middle class bodes well for milk producers, SA Milk Producers’ Organisation CEO Bertus de Jongh has asserted, contrary to many concerns the MPO has raised about their health and sustainability in recent months.

This and other growth aspects indicate that the future prospects for South Africa’s milk producers are positive,” he told the annual conference of the Free State Milk Producers’ Organisation (MPO) this week.

De Jongh said South Africa had lost many milk farmers because of the global economic downturn, but those remaining were producing more milk than in the past. They had probably grown bigger, he said.

Agricultural economist Johann Kirsten confirmed there was a positive outlook for milk producers. “Most [projection] models on prices for dairy show an increase over the next two years,” he said.

Kirsten said the growth in people’s incomes around the world and in South Africa had resulted in a bigger demand for animal protein.

“The milk industry is not dwindling.” He said the demand for products such as cheese had also grown.

Free State MPO chairperson Bernard Maree said the local organised milk industry had come through one of the worst years in its existence.

“Prices and the sustainability of the dairy industry are a source of concern.”

Maree said Free State milk producers urgently needed better prices for their product or the province would lose more milk farmers.

He said farmers and milk buyers should find a win-win situation for the survival of the industry.

Maree expressed concern about government dairy projects launched in the Free State, at places such as Harrismith, Ficksburg and Vrede.

“To this day, the MPO has not received any request to help with the necessity or sustainability of the projects.” Maree agreed that working together with the provincial government was essential to grow the industry and agricultural awareness.