Pearl Dairy unveils new production line

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Unveils Shs 9.25 billion packaging line to boost production and market access

Kampala, Uganda | JULIUS BUSINGE | Pearl Dairy Farms Limited, the processor and manufacturer of Lato Milk branded products, has unveiled a new Shs 9.25 billion Tetrapak Edge production line at its factory in Mbarara.

Company executives said on June 29 that the new line will boost Uganda’s dairy sector and support the company’s strategy to access markets beyond East Africa.

This development comes at a time when the company continues to struggle to gain access to some major EAC markets like Kenya for protectionism and political reasons.

Bijoy Varghese, managing director of the company, said that the new line from the Swedish company TetraPak Company ensures that the milk is packaged in a sterile environment and maintains the freshness of the product while ensuring that no bacteria or other microorganisms does not contaminate it during its self- service life of 12 months.

“The new Tetrapak packaging offers the best reclosable closure technology in the industry today, which will allow consumers to safely store the packaging at home without worrying about spoilage with maximum convenience of use,” said declared Varghese.

He said the new line will also allow them to buy more milk from farmers, as it has the capacity to produce more than 130,000 liters per day.

With a capacity of over 800,000 liters of milk per day, Pearl Dairy produces a large basket of dairy products including yogurt, instant whole milk powder, whole milk powder, skim milk powder, UHT milk. , butter, ghee and butter oil under the colloquial name. name of Lato Milk.

Varghese cautioned consumers, saying one of the biggest myths in the market is that shelf-stable milk contains preservatives or additives.

“This is completely wrong,” he said, “the long shelf life of the product results from the careful handling of the milk during the production processes using advanced machinery and its packaging in a highly environment. high quality sterile. packaging materials. “

Market access

This new development means that the company must now demonstrate that it will benefit farmers who rely heavily on processors to sell their raw milk at good prices.

In early 2020, the company laid off around 1,500 employees when it stopped exporting milk and dairy products to Kenya, its largest market in East Africa.

The Kenyan authorities, at the time, confiscated Ugandan imported milk and blocked the entry of trucks into the country on the grounds that the milk was smuggled into the country and thus killed local actors. But Pearl Dairy executives dismissed the reports as bogus.

Pearl Diary’s entry into the sector saw milk imported from East African Community member states reach 110.7 million liters in September 2019, up from just three million liters in 2016.

Authorities in Uganda and Kenya have repeatedly stated that they are in talks to resolve the stalemate, but nothing has happened yet. As a result, prices have fluctuated since then and farmers continue to book their losses.

In May 2021, in separate interviews, dairy farmers linked to Pearl Dairy said the price of milk had fallen to Shs 600, compared to an average of Shs 800 in March and April and just over 1,500 in some periods before. the Kenyan ban in 2020.

“You can’t plan when the prices keep changing,” George Buracweke of Kiruhura District told The Independent.

Glorias Ankunda, an agricultural extension worker hired by Pearl Dairy Farms Limited, said the latter had reduced farmers’ milk purchases by about 55% since the Kenyan ban was instituted from 800,000 liters to 250,000 liters. .

Ankunda said farmers’ livelihoods have been negatively affected by falling milk prices, and urges the government to further engage Kenyan authorities to lift the ban.

“We have trained farmers in best farming practices and are now able to produce a lot of milk, but the market is small,” Ankunda said. The same appeal was made separately by the Uganda Manufacturers Association, an organization that brings together all manufacturers in Uganda.

Uganda produces 2.6 billion liters of milk per year. However, domestic demand only stands at 800 million liters, creating a huge surplus that overseas markets, especially Kenya, would consume.

Going forward, Bijoy said, new packaging technology gives a new, smart, innovative and fresh look to the familiar and beloved packaging of Lato Milk.

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