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Milk production in Belarus rises almost 1.5-fold over five years

By Roman Astapov

The country is now annually producing over 600kg of milk per capita, not counting that collected by individual farmsteads. This well satisfies internal demand, since each Belarusian hardly needs to consume two litres of milk daily (especially when we think of the elderly and babies). The medically acknowledged norm is around 350kg per person annually.

As a result, Belarus is enhancing its milk exports. In 2000, the country sold 15 percent of its dairy products abroad; this rose to more than 50 percent in 2010, with 70 percent of all dairy exports going to Russia. This trend seems likely to continue, although the Government hopes to see sales to countries beyond the CIS rise.

Experts believe co-operation with Russian colleagues is essential. Russian plants are interested in Belarusian milk but significant investments are needed to successfully promote Belarusian dairy products to Russia and beyond. Additionally, manufacturing facilities must be expanded since, in the EU, the interests of local milk producers are supported.

Belarusian and Russian representatives seem ready for collaboration. “The planned initial volume of dairy product sales is 1m tonnes a year (calculated as dried milk equivalent),” say experts, having paid a working visit to Minsk. As expected, some Russian and Belarusian plants are to establish a joint company, under a single brand. This will aid unified marketing and advertising throughout the CIS.

Many issues should be solved regarding our two states’ milk collaboration, including the price which they are ready to pay for this co-operation. Belarus has many times stressed that it won’t sell milk enterprises cheap, as much money has been injected into their modernisation in recent years.

Evidently, raising milk exports is one way for Belarus to cut its negative foreign trade balance. However, milk producers and doctors note that Belarusians need to be encouraged to buy more dairy goods too. Over the past decade, it is thought that the volume of dairy products consumed in Belarus has dropped by around 40 percent (lower per capita than in the EU, Russia and Ukraine).

America’s fast-food branch once allocated funds to advertise milk, involving famous celebrities, actors and musicians to promote the drinking of this healthy beverage. Perhaps it’s our turn to shift from advertising beer and crisps to promoting kefir, cheese and milk…

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