ECONOMY

Fresh milk prices set to rise by up to 4.5 percent

Consumers will have to pay more for their fresh milk from next week as its price is expected to rise by up to 4.5 percent. This is the second price increase this year and was predictable after the repeated hikes in the last few months across all categories of dairy products, in turn due to the rapid rise in wheat and animal food prices. The sector’s top company, Vivartia, has already notified retailers about the new prices to take effect from Monday, October 8. The wholesale price (before value-added tax) of half a liter of fresh milk rises by 4.5 percent to 70 euro cents from -0.67, the price of a liter climbs by 4.2 percent from -1.18 to -1.23 and the price of two liters goes up by 4 percent, from -2.25 to -2.34. If we add VAT, then a liter will cost -1.34 from -1.29 today. The prices of low-fat and no-fat milk will also increase, by 4.5 percent and 4 percent respectively. Just as with fresh milk, prices change according to the quantity in each package. It is only in the last couple of years that the prices of these two categories have been on a par with whole milk, as previously they were sold at prices 3-5 percent higher. These have now gone down mainly for marketing reasons, according to market professionals. In the next few days, the new tariffs of the other firms in the sector are expected, as in most cases the majority of companies wait for the market leader to act first and then make their move. The first price hike this year had been at the start of 2007, amounting to about 2.6-3 percent. According to available data for the 2004-2007 period, the already high price of fresh milk has increased by 14.16 to 18.52 percent. The question now is whether private-label fresh milk can maintain its current price, which is the lowest in the market. From this month, a series of other dairy products will also see increases, such as a 5.6 percent hike for concentrated milk, a 10.8 percent rise for high-pasteurization milk, up to 6 percent for yogurt and up to 2.6 percent for children’s food and milk. Price rises in cheese products have reached 15 percent. Dairy festival opens today The first Greek milk and cheese festival opens at the Peace and Friendship Stadium in Neo Faliron today, running through Sunday. Visitors will have the opportunity to taste many relatively unknown types of cheese and watch traditional cheesemaking. The festival will also feature a cheese competition, as well as mini-conferences concerning the problems faced by Greek animal farming and the latest developments in milk production and processing. These will include a conference today on the development and promotion of the Greek animal farming sector and the prospects of strengthening its competitiveness in the Greek and foreign markets. Tomorrow, there will be a briefing event for consumer associations on feta. Some of the largest Greek dairy industries have been under investigation on charges of forming a price cartel and an official report is expected soon.