In a May 26 blog post, Ross Christieson, senior vice president of market research and analysis, USDEC, said Morocco, Algeria and Egypt offer the "best opportunities for US dairy suppliers" in North Africa.
Consumer demand for dairy currently exceeds domestic milk production in the countries, which have a combined population of nearly 160m.
Efforts by US dairy suppliers to tap into these potentially lucrative export markets are, however, hindered by "two major challenges" - the "geographical advantage" of European Union (EU) Member States and New Zealand "aggressively pricing" its products in the region.
Given their proximity, EU Member States are able to meet shorter delivery deadlines, he said.
Meanwhile, Christieson wrote, Algerian buyers consider US milk powder to be "unavailable on a consistent basis", and those in Morocco say US companies "rarely visit their country."
Buyers in both countries also "prefer the color, moisture, content and flavor profile of EU and New Zealand cheese to US cheese," he said.
"Many North African buyers perceive a general lack of commitment from the United States, due to an overall weak physical presence from US suppliers and what they see as insufficient attention to product specifications," he said.
While US dairy exporters are unable to "alter the geographical reality of the market" they can "do much to improve their service and, consequently, their standing in the minds of North African end-users," said Christieson.
To make further inroads, US dairy exporters should look to adapt products and packaging, increase their knowledge of "market requirements and peculiarities" and establish "stronger relationships" with customers and buyer in the countries, he concluded.
To read Christieson's full post or request a copy of the USDEC report, North Africa: Dairy Markets 2015, click HERE.