BUSINESS

Greek yogurt thrives in Italy as dairy companies plot expansion

DIMITRA MANIFAVA

TAGS: Business

Having conquered the United Kingdom, Greek yogurt is now rapidly gaining ground in another major European market: Italy. Over the last couple of years Greek yogurt exports have been registering double-digit growth rates, spurring the biggest Greek dairy companies to strike partnerships with Italian enterprises either for the distribution of their brands or for the production of private-label products for Italian supermarket chains.

Two examples are Kri Kri’s strengthening of its presence in Italy and the start of yogurt exports to the neighboring country by rival firm Dodoni.

According to official data, yogurt was Greece’s eighth biggest export to Italy last year. The value of yogurt exports rose 41 percent from 2014 to reach 51.9 million euros, up from 36.8 million a year earlier. Notably, Greek yogurt exports to Italy came to just 8.57 million euros in 2011.

The Italian market is a growing one for the Greek dairy companies, with Fage, the first Greek firm to start exporting yogurt to Italy, enjoying 13.2 percent annual growth in the value of the product it sent to the neighboring country in the first nine months of this year. The growth amounted to 14.1 percent in terms of volume. Fage has set up a 100 percent subsidiary in Italy, Fage Italia SrI, which distributes the Greek company’s products.

Delta penetrated the Italian market in 2014 and saw the value of its sales soar 240 percent last year, securing a 15 percent market share where it is present with its Delta yogurt brand. Its success has led to the export of three more Delta products to the Italian market.

Besides Kri Kri and Dodoni, more Greek dairy enterprises currently export yogurt to Italy, among them Mevgal, Olympos and Farma Koukaki.

The reason for soaring Greek yogurt sales in Italy is associated with healthy nutrition, an important part of Italians’ lives, arguably much more so than for Greeks.

Greek companies are now waiting to see the impact on their products’ sales after January 1, when every dairy product in Italy will have to name the country of origin of the raw materials on the label by law.

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