Just ahead of the crucial Christmas season, UK retailers are facing the prospect of being left short of goats cheese as a perfect storm of increased demand and reduced supply hits the European goats dairy industry.
Supplies of goats milk on the Continent, from where a lot of goats cheese is imported into the UK, are down dramatically. In France, production has fallen by about 8% a year for the past two years, according to dairy supplier Eurilait, because many producers have left the industry as a result of low goats milk prices.
Meanwhile in the Netherlands, which is a major goats milk producer, a government cull of more than 50,000 pregnant goats and sheep in 2009/2010 to contain rising levels of Q fever in humans - blamed on pregnant dairy goats and sheep - has curtailed output.
Further pressure was coming from growing demand for goats dairy products - particularly goats milk powder - from emerging markets such as China, said Delamere Dairy director Liz Sutton.
Falling production and soaring demand have driven up farmgate prices for goats milk - in France, they are up by 15% over the past 12 months [Eurilait] - and left many cheesemakers short of milk.
All goats cheese producers were now in a position where there were insufficient reserves of stock to satisfy all demand through the autumn and winter, said Howard Newmarch, MD of Eurilait. “Inevitably there will be allocations to ensure that customers are supplied in part, but not totally what they would ideally want.”
This was echoed by Bradburys executive director George Paul, who warned UK retailers would either need to pay more for goats products or risk being left short. “One or the other will give shortly: it’ll either be price or availability.”
Over the past year, the price of some goats cheeses has already risen sharply in the mults. For example, in Tesco, the price of an own label goats cheese log has increased by 50%, from £5.00 to £7.50 and in Asda, the price of a 100g own label French goats cheese log has gone up by 17.2%, from £1.28, to £1.50. [BrandView.com].