While welcoming the delegation during a tour of one of Arla’s dairy farms, Steen Hadsbjerg, senior vice president and head of Arla Foods for Sub-Saharan Africa, told DairyReporter that Nigeria is important to Arla’s ability to sell its farmer owners’ milk in West Africa in the future.
“Milk consumption is approximately 4kg per year per capita, compared to the average in Europe, which is between 80 and 90kg,” Hadsbjerg said.
“So we obviously have an interest in improving the size of the Nigerian and West African market in general, and that, as such, will also enable Arla farmers to improve and develop the market for their products going forward.”
He added, “Our overall plan is to set up a kind of hub-and-spoke model, where we will build a number of hubs in Africa, and then export to surrounding markets. Nigeria is part of ECOWAS (Economic Community of West African States), so we are considering if we can export products out of Nigeria to other ECOWAS countries.”
Assisting Nigerian industry
In addition to opening markets for its own products, Arla said that it is committed to assisting the Nigerian industry to grow.
Hadsbjerg said that in the second quarter of 2015, Arla looked at how the cooperative could support Nigeria in improving nutrition and how it could create a framework for sustainable development of the local dairy industry.
He said, “We understand that developing the Nigerian local dairy industry to create a sustainable value chain that contributes to food security, local jobs and prosperity are important issues for the government.”
He added that the most recent visit from the Nigerian delegation was an opportunity for Arla to share its knowledge and experience about how its farmer owners have organized and developed their value chain.
Ensuring milk quality
He said Arla would work with the Nigerian industry to ensure the standard of milk produced there would match that of milk in Europe.
“For Arla, we have very strict quality standards, and to obtain milk from local farmers, we have to ensure the milk we take is at the same level quality wise as any other milk from the UK, Danish or German farmers, otherwise we cannot put an Arla label on the product,” he told DR.
Deciding on products
Hadsbjerg added there will be a fact-finding tour, most likely towards the end of May, and based on that, Arla would identify the specific activities to be carried out.
“The objective would be to have a business plan to be signed off in the form of an MOU and start launching activities by the end of the year or beginning of 2017,” he said.
The partnership will result in new products, added Hadsbjerg, which will be tailor-made for the African market.
“We are mapping out what the potential products are,” he said.
Nigeria targets increased production
With a population of over 180m people, Nigeria is presently experiencing low local milk production and more than 70% of dairy products are imported into Nigeria.
Nigeria spends $1.3bn on dairy imports. The Nigerian government’s target is to double milk production over the next three to four years to meet domestic consumption and for export.