5 minutes with Bijoy Varghese GM Pearl Dairy Farms
Bijoy is the GM at Pearl Dairy Farms, the largest vertically integrated dairy processor in sub-Saharan Africa. On the sidelines of the launch of the company’s new range of yoghurt flavors in Mbarara on October 3, he spoke to Michael Wakabi about the prospects for the yoghurt market. Excerpts
What are the underlying drivers of the market for yoghurt in East Africa?
Fermented dairy products which includes yoghurt is among the fastest growing dairy category globally and within East Africa. Many consumers have been drinking locally made fermented products for centuries and understand the health benefits. Across East Africa sweetened yoghurt is preferred as a snack or meal replacement. In Kenya Maziwa lala is part of the staple diet. Mothers are more and more opting for yoghurt as part of meal plans for their children.
How competitive is the market and how challenging is it for a new entrant to gain traction?
The market is extremely competitive because the number of outlets that range yoghurt is relatively limited. This is due to the cold chain requirements. It’s difficult for new entrants to scale up as lots of investments are required in developing a cold chain and providing new outlets with chillers to increase the number of outlets that range yoghurt.
What kind of volumes are we talking about and how much revenue do they represent for the industry across the board in a market like Uganda?
The processed yoghurt market which doesn’t include home made yoghurt is approximately 60,000 to 80,000 litres a day in Uganda.
What constraints must be addressed at the industry level to encourage more universal consumption?
Resolving the infrastructure bottlenecks by having more outlets with chillers to store the product properly and educating the masses about the benefits of yoghurt consumption to gut health and the overall benefits of dairy.
What has been Pearl Dairy‘s experience so far, how much of a slice of the market have you carved out for yourselves in the one year since launch?
We are on track to be the market leader by December 2020, within the first year of launch. We initially launched with only two flavors and have now launched another five. We aim to have eight new flavors in total which will complete our product offering including real fruit yoghurts.