More Kenyans are now consuming cheese unlike few years ago when the product was mainly for the middle class, wealthy or the western world.
According to Economic Survey 2018, for the last five years, production of cheese has increased by 26.5 per cent from 267.4 tonnes in 2013 to 338.3 tonnes last year.
Compared to imported cheese, prices of the locally produced dairy product have been on the increase. Cost of cheese produced locally stands at between Sh350 and Sh400 for a 250g, Sh600 and Sh700 for 400g and Sh1, 000 and Sh1,400 for one kg.
Local producers are thus grappling with stiff competition from imported cheese which are cheaper by about Sh50. Most of the cheese manufacturers in developed world are subsidised by their governments while manufacturers in third world are not supported but left to struggle with high cost of production, low processing utilisation capacity, poor infrastructure and lack of market.
Sammy Karimi, the manager of Nyeri County-based Raka Cheese Company said most of the local cheese producers are unable to cope with cut throat competition mounted by the global companies bringing the product into the local market.
The company was one of the dairy firms exhibiting at the 14th African Dairy Conference in Nairobi. He says most of the global cheese companies not only enjoy government support but also procure milk from equally subsidised farmers.
“These companies get subsidies throughout the value chain. We are requesting the government through Kenya Dairy Board to support Kenyan farmers and processors so that we can also be able to maximise profits,” he said.