Shops not but­tered up by all of Bant­ing

Sunday Times - - BUSINESS TIMES - AN­DRIES MAHLANGU

THE Bant­ing diet, which pro­motes high-fat and high-pro­tein in­take, has con­trib­uted to pent-up de­mand for full-cream milk, re­sult­ing in low sup­plies of but­ter on su­per­mar­ket shelves in South Africa.

In­ter­na­tional but­ter prices have also been ris­ing due to strong de­mand, which an­a­lysts have pinned on con­sumers’ chang­ing eat­ing habits. “The lo­cal con­sumer has in­creased de­mand for full-cream milk, but­ter and full-cream prod­ucts, re­duc­ing the de­mand for low­fat milk and prod­ucts,” says Absa agri­cul­tural econ­o­mist Conce Moraba this week.

Sho­prite Check­ers and Pick n Pay con­firmed this week that they were ex­pe­ri­enc­ing shorter sup­plies of but­ter from lo­cal man­u­fac­tur­ers.

The mar­ket is ex­pe­ri­enc­ing an in­creased de­mand for but­ter as op­posed to mar­garine, as well as full­cream ver­sus skimmed milk, which also com­petes with raw prod­ucts avail­able for pro­duc­tion of but­ter, ac­cord­ing to a Sho­prite spokesper­son, who did not want to be named.

“Pick n Pay’s pref­er­ence is al­ways to buy lo­cal, and im­port as a last re­sort. Lo­cal pro­duc­ers are cur­rently hav­ing some difficulty meet­ing the de­mand for but­ter, which is partly a sea­sonal is­sue . . . in win­ter, cows tend to pro­duce less milk,” said Brian Austin, head of gro­ceries and per­ish­ables at Pick n Pay.

“Added to this, cus­tomers are in­creas­ingly choos­ing full-cream milk over low-fat and fat-free milk, which means there is less cream avail­able with which to make but­ter,” Austin said.

Mass­mart, which owns Game and Makro stores, said the man­u­fac­tur­ers have in­di­cated high de­mand for full-cream prod­ucts, al­though this has not af­fected the on-shelf avail­abil­ity in its stores.

The buoy­ant de­mand for full­cream prod­ucts comes as South Africa is re­cov­er­ing from last year’s drought, which also af­fected dairy pro­duc­ers.

The Milk Pro­duc­ers Or­gan­i­sa­tion said this week that lower feed prices would prob­a­bly have a pos­i­tive ef­fect on the milk in­dus­try in the com­ing months.

How­ever, the in­dus­try body cau­tioned that the ef­fect of the drought re­mained largely un­clear and pro­duc­tion may re­main de­pressed.

The Sho­prite spokesper­son said: “The su­per­mar­ket chain ap­plies the pol­icy of sourc­ing lo­cally first and it will only look to sup­ple­ment [but­ter] vol­umes re­quired to ser­vice its cus­tomers from abroad when nec­es­sary or if a price ad­van­tage can be gained in the in­ter­est of the con­sumer.”

Mean­while, the South African Poul­try As­so­ci­a­tion said last month that egg prices were likely to rise by 8% af­ter last year’s drought squeezed small-scale farm­ers out of busi­ness. De­fined as those with be­tween 5 000 and 40 000 hens, smallscale farm­ers buck­led un­der the high cost of feed such as maize.

Pic­ture: BLOOMBERG

CREAM SCENE: Dairy cows at a farm

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