MILK DEVELOPMENT COUNCIL

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1 MILK DEVELOPMENT COUNCIL MARKET PROSPECTS FOR ORGANIC MILK (Executive Summary) Project No. 01/T5/03

2 Section 1 The Brief In early 2002, the Milk Development Council (MDC) issued a request for research tenders to study the market prospects for organic milk. The MDC specifically asked for the study to provide the following information: Production: Organic milk production in England, Wales and Scotland ( ) Organic milk imports to GB ( ) Number of farms with plans to convert to organic systems by conversion completion year ( ) Actual and predicted litreage of production ( ) Milk Utilisation by dairies: Litreage of organic milk used for liquid market ( ) Litreage of organic milk used for cheese ( ) Litreage of organic milk used for cream and other products ( ) Market developments: Predicted growth of the organic liquid market ( ) Predicted growth of home produced organic cheese market ( ) Predicted growth of cream and other product markets ( ) Consumer attitudes: Values and attitudes of consumers regarding organic milk and milk products Evidence of any trend changes in attitudes toward organic milk. Conclusions: To investigate the expected supply/demand balance going forward and to highlight key obstacles to the future development of the market. Opportunities for overcoming some of these obstacles have also been identified. The study investigates each level in the organic dairy supply chain from producer to end consumer, followed by key recommendations for short and long term development of the dairy market. 1

3 Section 2 Executive Summary 2.1 Background Fully organic land for all production systems has increased by 750 per cent from 60,000ha to over 450,000ha between and This has been due to many producers entering conversion during and in response to market demand and elevated levels of financial support for converting to organic production. The consequence of this considerable increase in fully organic land has been a substantial increase in output of UK organic commodities. For organic milk this elevated level of production began to outstrip demand in Subsequently considerable quantities of organic milk produced have not found an organic market. 2.2 Production The production of organic milk showed a 13-fold increase from to In , 218 million litres of organic milk was produced of which million litres was sold on to the organic market leaving a further 81 million litres surplus to requirements. Going forward there looks set to be a 78 per cent increase in organic dairy land between and If this growth of land is matched by increased supplies then approximately 388 million litres of organic milk could be produced in Based on milk group predictions for future demand this would result in 228 million litres of surplus milk being available if market prospects do not improve. 2.3 Processing Organic dairies processed six times more milk in than in The majority of milk handled in (40 per cent or 66 million litres) was destined for liquid milk sales with a further 29 per cent or 38.6 million litres used for yoghurt and 8 per cent or 10.3 million litres used for cheese. When compared to non-organic dairy utilisation cheese is grossly under-represented and yoghurt is over represented. 2.4 The organic dairy market The organic dairy market grew at 15 per cent to 95 million in , accounting for 1.7 per cent of the total dairy market. This is not as rapid as was experienced in previous years but nevertheless represents healthy progress. Within the organic dairy market yoghurt accounted for 40 per cent of sales, liquid milk for 27.4 per cent and cheese for 17.4 per cent. At current growth rates (15 per cent) the organic dairy market will be worth 109 million in and 125 million in The growth of the dairy market has been due to an increase in the proportion of UK households buying organic dairy products. However, average number of purchases and average expenditure per household declined during The market is heavily dependent on a core of committed customers with 8 per cent of households accounting for 80 per cent of spend. A further 25 per cent of households bought organic dairy products but only very occasionally. Penetration in the dairy market (33 per cent) is considerably lower than the organic grocery market as a whole (57 per cent). 2

4 The organic dairy market is relatively small. Marginal changes in consumer purchasing behaviour will have major effects in the market. The greatest potential for growth in the short term is through increasing penetration. In the longer term, as penetration approaches saturation, initiatives should also look to increase average household expenditure. By retailer the greatest share of organic dairy products was sold through Tesco, with Sainsbury exhibiting the highest rate of growth in this category. 2.5 The organic dairy consumer The primary motivation for buying organic dairy products is health. This is common across Europe. However, the health benefits associated with buying organic dairy products are not as attractive as the health benefits related to purchasing organic fruit and vegetables. By region the majority of spend is focussed on more affluent regions. For organic cheese, organic milk and organic yoghurt London accounts for the greatest expenditure. Consumer survey data indicates that consumers intend to increase their expenditure on organic dairy products in the future. However, increases in expenditure will not be at the same rate as suggested for meat and fruit and vegetables. 2.6 Supply chain The size of the market presents a number of problems relating to supply chain efficiency. These include : Logistics of collection and delivery Availability of appropriate processing facilities Adequate investment from predominantly non-organic processors and category managers within the chain. Accurate planning of supply and demand 2.7 Key recommendations Current trends in supply and demand indicate that the problems faced by organic dairy producers are set to continue for the foreseeable future. However, developments in the market place can help to alleviate the problem in the short and long term. These broadly require an improved level of commitment and co-operation in the supply chain, coupled with investment from key players to help elevate sales. Milk, cheese and yoghurt utilise the vast majority of milk handled by processors. It is these products (particularly milk and cheese) that warrant attention in the market place to make use of surplus supply. Regrettably there is no panacea to the problems faced in the UK organic dairy sector. Report recommendations are based on qualitative and quantitative data and are designed to accelerate growth of the category to utilise increased volumes of organic milk Producers 1. In the current climate producers should not convert to organic production if secure contracts cannot be achieved. 2. For producers approaching the completion of conversion without an outlet for their organic milk the option of delaying becoming fully organic should be explored. The benefit is cost saving as producers will be able to continue to feed 3

5 GM free non-organic feed. For these farms to subsequently produce organic milk the following requirements will need to be met : a nine month veterinary conversion period in which animals are managed to full organic veterinary standards. and a three month feed conversion period in which animals are fed to full organic standards. Under the Organic Farming Scheme (OFS) stock will need to be converted within five years of entering the scheme. 3. If already fully organic with no outlet for organic milk then producers should consider direct sales and the potential for on farm processing to add value. Producers should contact their DEFRA regional office to explore the potential for grant support through the rural enterprise scheme Supply chain 4. Improved co-operation between producers and milk groups to improve transport and collection efficiency 5. Investigation of the potential for processing facilities for production of milk powder. These will either need to be small dedicated sites or producers will need to co-operate to procure adequate volumes to make the processing operation worthwhile. 6. Key industry representatives should engage with dairy category managers using the findings of this report. Such a meeting could be used to outline the problems and potential in the market. 7. The organic group of the Federation of Milk Groups should be used as the basis for an annual meeting between key stakeholders in the supply chain (producers, processors and supermarkets) to consider projected supply and demand Product availability and promotions 8. Supermarkets should explore innovative ways to place organic liquid milk products alongside non-organic in store. This is practised in some stores with the benefit of encouraging increased purchases from occasional organic consumers. 9. The potential for expanding sales of organic dairy products in alternative outlets such as garages and local shops should be explored. Investment relative to the size of the market currently provides an obstacle to this. 10. Public procurement with a particular focus on organic milk for schools needs further investigation. 11. Supermarkets and milk groups should work together to explore the potential for money off vouchers for organic dairy products. Such an initiative could reflect the current over supply situation but protect against premium erosion in the future Consumer awareness In the long term high profile consumer awareness campaigns may be needed to substantially increase expenditure. In the short term it is unlikely that adequate resources are available to embark on such initiatives. Other less costly means are therefore more appropriate. 12. Existing organic buyers are less likely to buy organic dairy products. Supermarket promotions on other organic products such as vegetables would help to encourage consumers to expand the range of organic products they buy. 4

6 13. On pack promotion is an important and relatively simple means to raise consumer awareness 14. Supermarket staff should undergo training so that they can deal with consumer questions regarding organic dairy products in an informed way. 15. Young families are currently under represented within the organic dairy sector compared to other demographic groups. New products could be developed to expand this market New product development and alternative markets 16. As an under represented area within the organic market it would appear that there is potential for an expanded range of cheese products. This has the potential to utilise substantial quantities of liquid milk. Processors should be encouraged to explore this avenue. 17. Companies carrying out existing milk delivery rounds should be engaged to assess the potential for mixed organic and non-organic rounds Policy 18. The rural enterprise scheme encompassing grants for marketing and processing should look favourably on proposals venturing to improve milk utilisation and expand the organic dairy market. 19. Financial support measures for continued organic management should aim to achieve parity with other key European countries. 5

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