Since the start of the economic crisis in Greece, the fresh milk market has taken quite a battering, as shrinking incomes have turned many consumers to products with a longer shelf life – such as HTST pasteurized milk, which lasts two to three weeks, or ultra-pasteurized milk, which can last up to nine months before the carton is opened – to avoid paying for a product that will go off before they finish it.
According to data from market research firm IRI, supermarket milk sales declined by 27 percent in the 2013-17 period, with estimated losses of 85 million euros. Supermarkets are not the only sales points for milk, but they do account for 67.2 percent of volume.
IRI data reveal that sales of refrigerated milk (fresh and high pasteurization) fell from 283.64 million euros in 2015 to 241.5 million euros in 2016, and dropped again in 2017, to 230.5 million euros.
The market contraction is also evident from the sales volume figures. Milk sales amounted to 225,793 liters in 2015, 191,223 liters in 2016 and 188,001 liters in 2017.
However, while data show the sales volume of milk declined by 1.1 percent in the first six months of 2018, sales revenue was up 2.5 percent from the same period a year earlier.
Private label products rose 6 percent in sales volume and 9.7 percent in sales revenue in the first half of the year.
Despite the difficulties though, the dairy industry is one of Greece’s strongest in the packaged food sector.
According to the latest annual report on the food and drink sector by the Foundation for Economic and Industrial Research (IOBE), dairy products rank third in the food industry in terms of gross added value (14 percent) and account for 17 percent of the sector’s total production value.
The dairy industry also accounts for the second largest turnover in the Greek packaged food sector (14 percent) and has the third highest productivity rate (49.3 euros per employee per hour). It is also the third largest employer in the packaged food sector with over 15,000 employees.