Canada’s four western provinces have engaged a market specialist to develop new opportunities for dairy products by tapping into growing ethnic populations.
The western milk pool has hired Nissim Avraham to help develop ethnic and niche markets through partnerships with dairy processors, distributors and retailers.
Avraham is a Dairy Farmers of Ontario employee in charge of developing ethnic markets in Ontario. He is on a one-year renewable contract with WMP to do the same in Western Canada, said Brent Achtemichuk, Dairy Farmers of Manitoba general manager.
“It’s mainly trying to develop ethnic market opportunities to make sure we are satisfying those particular populations,” Achtemichuk said.
Avraham will focus on products for East Indian and Muslim markets, particularly in British Columbia and Alberta, where there are significant communities.
One product example is paneer, an East Indian cheese and a dietary staple. Achtemichuk said Manitoba used to have a processor who made paneer but he retired and has not been replaced.
That’s the kind of product for which there may be untapped demand and which the industry could fill if the need were identified, he said.
“We’re becoming a more di ver se populat ion in Manitoba and Western Canada. So I’m optimistic that we can find new markets.”
Avraham will also work with food development centres, such as the one in Portage la Prairie, to identify opportunities.
Growing the domestic market is critical for Canada’s supply-managed dairy industry which, unlike those in other countries, is not export oriented.
The fluid milk market in Western Canada, although “fairly stable,” has flattened out this year after experiencing some growth last year. The industrial market, which produces cheese, yogurt and other dairy foods, has also started to level off after seeing a six per cent growth last year, said Achtemichuk.
For that reason, expanding sales in non-traditional markets is important, he said.
“We want to continue not only promoting our current products but to see what other products are available that we aren’t capitalizing on.”
The dairy industry already has several national and regional programs to increase milk sales by encouraging new and innovative products.
The national Domestic Dairy Product Innovation Program (DDPIP) gives provinces extra milk quota above their regular allocations to manufacture new products, which must first be approved by a committee.
Achtemichuk expressed hope that Avraham may be able to access DDPIP contracts for some of the ethnic products he’s exploring.
The Dairy Marketing Program, also national, offers processors and manufacturers technical support and expertise for product development.
The WMP will reduce the price of milk for processors wanting to make special products. The price reduction is 10 per cent for fluid milk and 15 per cent for industrial milk.
The eastern milk pool, which includes Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island, has a similar program, Achtemichuk said. [email protected]
“It’smainlytryingto developethnicmarket opportunities.”
– BRENT ACHTEMICHUK, DFM