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Independent.ie

Thursday 30 March 2017

Congo go crazy for a taste of Kerrygold

Democratic Republic of Congo now fifth-highest export market as IDB continues to grow presence in a rapidly developing Africa

Caitriona Murphy

Caitriona Murphy

While the top four export markets for Kerrygold in the last year may not come as a surprise (Ireland, Britain, Germany and USA), the country coming in fifth place might -- the Democratic Republic of Congo.

With a population of more than 68 million, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), or Zaire as it was formerly known, is the 18th most populous state in the world, and the fourth most populous nation in Africa.

The Irish Dairy Board (IDB) is also currently active in 13 other African countries and is developing and strengthening its presence in Russia, the Middle East and China.

Development

In terms of dairy market development, Africa is in what is known as the "early liquid stage", when mothers become more discerning about what their baby is being fed. The target audience in the African markets is, therefore, mothers with children.

Perhaps not surprisingly, Irishness is not a key selling point in Africa, unlike Germany, US and Britain. In terms of promotion and investment in Africa, the IDB uses lots of outdoor advertising and graphics such as hand-painted Kerrygold logos on the walls surrounding sports grounds.

The most recent marketing success story for the IDB in sub-Saharan Africa was the launch of BeoMilk, a new brand of fat filled milk powder, last year.

Sales figures have been showing encouraging growth and BeoMilk is performing ahead of target so the IDB is planning to further extend the format range of BeoMilk powders in the coming months.


In Algeria, a new distribution network serving key towns and cities has been put in place to fast-track the roll out of the Kerrygold range of products there. The IDB has also appointed a national sales manager to develop the market further.

Premium

Kerrygold butter continues to outpace strong market demand for butter across the African continent and in 2010 increased its leadership position in the premium butter category in South Africa.

Kerrygold also has a presence in Egypt and more recently, in the Lebanon. The board developed a solid business in the Middle East, driven mainly by strong branded cheddar sales. The range is marketed in all six Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) countries -- Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and United Arab Emirates -- through appointed distributors.

The IDB also has a sales office in Moscow, where Kerrygold butter has an established presence in all main retail accounts. The current focus is on developing new accounts in St Petersburg and last year, the Kerrygold brand in Russia reported increased sales and retail listings.

In the past year, the IDB has moved to develop its presence in China by establishing a sales office in Beijing.

In 2009, Irish food and beverage exports to China rose by 44pc to €118 million, mainly in exports of infant formula and dairy ingredients.

Domestic Chinese dairies have been plagued by milk-tainting scandals that caused the deaths of six children from melamine poisoning in 2008 and three more children who died from nitrite poisoning last month.

International agri-focused bank Rabobank has said the Chinese government is effectively helping to create a whole new generation of dairy consumers by promoting a school milk programme.

Putting this into perspective, dairy consumption in the Netherlands in 2010 was around 300 litres of dairy products per person per year. In contrast, the correspoding figure for the citizens of China is less than 10pc of this at just 20 litres per capita.

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