“Milk producers” are milk farmers. “Milk processors” buy milk from producers and process it for the retail market. Some role players, of course, are both, and the reader will find many of these listed under the “Companies involved” heading. In order to survive, many farmers have extended their activities beyond the farmgate and are involved in both the “field” and “fork” parts of the value chain.

This page covers the processing side, the dairy secondary industry: milk powder, flavoured milk, cheese, cottage cheese, feta cheese, maas (Amazi), yoghurt, evaporated and condensed milk, cheese powder, buttermilk, cream, sour cream, butter, and milk itself – pasteurised, long-life or ultra-high temperature treated (UHT).

International business environment

  • The top countries for cheese production are the EU and Russia. They are also the top consumers of cheese (USDA, 2021).
  • The EU and New Zealand are the top cheese exporters. Russia and Japan are the top importers (USDA, 2021).
  • India and the EU are the top butter producers, as well as the top butter consumers (USDA, 2021).
  • New Zealand and the EU are the top butter exporters, with China and Russia being the major butter importers (USDA, 2021).
  • The EU, India and New Zealand are the top dry milk producers (USDA, 2021). Dry milk exporters are the EU and New Zealand, with China and Mexico being the main importers (USDA, 2021).
  • New Zealand, China and the EU are the major producers of Whole milk powder. New Zealand and the EU are the dominant exporters, while China and Algeria are the dominant importers (USDA, 2021).

Further reference:


South Africa: imports and exports

  • Since 2015 SA has imported more than it has exported. In 2020, 60 600 tonnes of products were imported and 46 700 tonnes exported (Milk SA, 2021).
  • SA exports were mostly milk and cream (46%), buttermilk and yoghurt (22%) and milk powder (17%). SA imports were whey 28%, milk powder 33%, butter 12% and cheese (11%) (Milk SA, 2021).
  • The annual Lacto Data and monthly Dairy Market Trends provide the latest statistics on the dairy industry, including breakdowns of imports and exports. Find it on The Quarterly Review, prepared by the MPO and SAMPRO (see “Associations involved” heading), does the same. Find it at

Local business environment

The South African dairy market is divided into two segments; approximately 62% is utilised as liquid products, with the remaining 38% processed into concentrate products. The percentage composition of South African liquid products market currently stands as 71% processed milk (includes ultra-high temperature (UHT) milk and pasteurised milk), 24% fermented products, 3% flavoured milk, and 2% other. Cheese (60%), milk powder (14%), whey (12%) and butter (11%) take the lead in concentrated dairy products (Milk SA, 2021).

The number of producer-distributors decreased by 39% from January 2015 to January 2021. Milk buyers decreased by 18% over the same period. There was a total of 67 producer-distributors and 132 milk processors in January 2021. Producer-distributors were mostly in Gauteng (16), Western Cape (12) and Limpopo (11). Milk processors were mostly in Gauteng (39), Western Cape (35), KwaZulu-Natal (19) with the Free State and North West provinces having 11 each (Milk SA, 2021).


Further reference:

  • Read the annual Lacto data and monthly Dairy Market Trends at, and the Quarterly Review at
  • The annual Bureau for Food and Agricultural Policy (BFAP) Baseline takes a look at the likely performance of fluid milk products, cheese, butter and milk powder over the next ten years. Find the document at

Notes on adding value to your milk

Milk is a “cash crop” and most people are users and cash buyers (including your neighbours!) The question is: should you sell fresh milk or add value by producing and selling fermented products (amasi, yoghurt, cream cheese)?


Adding value to your milk

You can nearly double your turnover on the same amount of milk with relatively little extra cost of pasteurising and additives, and definitely make money out of a small-scale dairy.

Some considerations:

  • There is also the cost of additives – culture medium, stabiliser, flavourant (like vanilla) and yellow colouring agent.
  • Keep an eye on Eskom costs in future – pasteurizers chew power!
  • Competition from the “Big boys” means that making milk-powder, long-life milk and butter is not recommended, even if you could afford the very expensive equipment.

What is needed for producing fermented products?

  1. Firstly a nearby market that will buy your product
  2. Electricity from Eskom – not generated off diesel or petrol power (too expensive)!
  3. A Batch Pasteurizer – say big enough for 1 or 2 days milk production 4. A warm room (for Amasi) to mature the fermented product; (or your thermostatically controlled batch pasteurizer for other products like yoghurt).
Source: AXXON

National strategy and government contact

“The South African dairy industry is a critical contributor to food security, and production expansion has already exceeded the targets set for 2030 in the National Development Plan. In the processing space, it contributes to both value addition and employment in agro-processing”. (BFAP, 2021)

Associations involved

Training and research

  • Agricultural Colleges like GADI do dairy  processing training. Find the list of these institutions on the “Agricultural education and training” page.
  • Andrew Murray Consulting Specialist fields include the processing of dairy products particularly where such unit operations as heat exchange, pasteurisation or evaporation take place.
  • ARC-Animal Production (Irene) Department: Dairy Technology Training and research is done on the processing of yoghurt, cheese, fresh milk and other milk products.
  • Cheesemaking South Africa See also related websites and
  • Dynamiko Food Ingredients offers cheese and yoghurt manufacturing courses.
  • FoodBev FoodBev is the Sector Education and Training Authority (SETA) responsible for facilitating education and training in the food and beverages manufacturing sector, which includes dairy manufacturing.
  • SAMPRO Training Find lists of training aids and learning material on the website.
  • Stellenbosch University Department of Food Science
  • University of Fort Hare (UFH) Agricultural and Rural Development Research Institute (ARDRI) ARDI trains livestock farmers to make amasi (sour milk), yogurt and cheese.
  • University of the Free State Department of Microbial, Biochemical and Food Biotechnology Division of Food Science



Companies involved


Dairies and Milk Processors

For makers of goat and sheep milk cheese, see the “Goat and sheep dairy” page.


Ingredients, equipment & other


Websites and publications


Visit the websites of role players listed on this page.


Some articles

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