Namibia Dairies: Growing a proudly Namibian dairy industry
The Economist caught up with Gunther Ling Managing Director of Namibia Dairies, in a quest to get a lucid picture of a national industry that puts the final dairy products on Namibian retail shelves. Ling was also asked to sketch the role of the dairy industry within the government’s ‘Growth at Home Strategy’.
According to Ling, “Namibia Dairies purchases raw milk from all milk producers registered with the Dairy Producers Association (DPA) which, in turn, is affiliated to the Namibia Agricultural Union (NAU). In total 16 dairy farmers including our own !Aimab Superfarm are selling raw milk to the Namibia Dairies factory.”
He said that the total raw milk purchased by the Namibia Dairies factory from 01 January 2014 to 31 December 2014 amounted to 23 million litres which roughly translates to an average of 1.9 million litres per month, while he stressed that the company does not import any fresh or UHT milk.
“Milk productions volumes are affected by seasonality which is currently at its lowest point. Our Superfarm is currently producing approximately 40,000 litres per day which give us 280,000 litres per week and 1,1 million litres per month. This will increase to 45,000 litres per day or 1,35 million per month at peak times of seasonality,” he added.
Meanwhile small holder farmers according to Ling currently supply what would be called an informal sector or for domestic consumption only.
“We believe that milk production by small holder farmers could play a more important role within the local dairy industry. Therefore we foresee opportunities for small holder farmers to contribute to the formal dairy value chain in the future. This is however subject to quality standards as well as support from the private and public sector,” he added.
In terms of their product lines at Namibia Dairies, Ling said currently they have eight dairy products which include fresh milk, UHT milk, cream, buttermilk, Omaere, Oshitaka, Oshikandela and yoghurt. Their other five products are non-dairy and include Juice, Sunsation, bottled water, meat and Bos ice tea which contribute 33% to total output. For them to be able to meet the demand and service the nation, Namibia Dairies currently employs 750 workers, including 130 employees at the Superfarm.
Health and quality standards are usually an issue when it comes to the preparation of food products for human consumption. In this regard, he said they ensure consistent quality of their entire product range by only using hormone-free milk sourced from approved Namibian milk producers and by enforcing stringent control measures. All Namibia Dairies’ products, both dairy and non-dairy have to conform to international health standards.
“Namibia Dairies is ISO 9001:2008 certified, emphasising our compliance with internationally recognised quality management systems,” he said. He does not see compliance issues as a debilitating factor stating that Namibia Dairies produces only to the highest standards, but he pointed out that competitiveness in the face of imported dairy, is a serious concern. “The challenges we usually encounter in the industry are imports. The industry is at risk due to imported products being sold at uncompetitive low prices, which are set to take a toll on the sustainability of the local industry.
“Currently Namibia Dairies does not enjoy any form of Infant Industry Protection and there are no quantitative support measures, meaning anyone can sell their milk,” noting that this is a great concern especially on the side of UHT milk.