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Dairy processing


“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 are termed producer-distributors in the annual Lacto data publication by the Milk Producers’ Organisation (MPO). The reader will find some 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, 2023).
  • The EU, USA, New Zealand and Belarus are the top cheese exporters. The UK, Russia, Japan and Mexico are the top importers (USDA, 2023).
  • India and the EU are the top butter producers, as well as the top butter consumers (USDA, 2023).
  • New Zealand and the EU are the top butter exporters, with China and Russia being the major butter importers (USDA, 2023).
  • The EU, India and New Zealand are the top non-fat dry milk producers (USDA, 2023). Dry milk exporters are the EU and New Zealand, with Mexico and China being the main importers (USDA, 2023).
  • 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, 2023).

Further reference:

South Africa: imports and exports

  • In 2023, a total of 48 000 tonnes of products were imported, and 56 000 tonnes exported (SAMPRO, 2024).
  • SA exports were mostly milk and cream (41%), buttermilk and yoghurt (21%), milk powder (19%), cheese (14%), whey (3%) and butter (2%). Imports to SA were whey (24%); milk powder (39%); cheese (14%); butter (3%); milk and cream (12%); buttermilk and yoghurt (8%) (SAMPRO, 2024).
  • 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 on the same website.

Local business environment

In January 2024 there were 125 milk processors in South Africa (in 2018 there were 138). At the beginning of 2024 there were 54 producer-distributors (PDs), down from 88 in 2018. These are milk producers who sell their own produce to retailers and consumers.

Dairy products can be divided into liquid products and concentrated products. The major liquid products in 2023 were pasteurised liquid milk and UHT processed milk (48.7%), fermented products (21.1%), fresh milk (25.3%), and sweetened, flavoured, and coloured milk (2.1%). Concentrated dairy products were mainly cheese (excludes cottage and cream cheese) (50.9%), whey powder (12.4%) and butter (12.2%).

Source: Lacto Data June 2024

Further reference:

  • Read the annual Lacto data, monthly Dairy Market Trends, 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: Livetrack SA

National strategy and government contact

The South African dairy industry is an important contributor to food security, and to both value addition and employment in agro-processing. It is one of the agricultural sectors which has met and exceeded the targets set for 2030 in the National Development Plan (BFAP, 2021).

Role players

Note: Click to expand the headings below. To get a free listing on our website like the ones below, visit here for more information or place your order hereDisclaimer: The role player listings are not vetted by this website.

FoodBev SETA – FoodBev is the Sector Education Training Authority (SETA) responsible for facilitating education and training in the food and beverages manufacturing sector. Find a list of accredited training providers on the website.
ARC-Animal Production – Training and research is done on the processing of yoghurt, cheese, fresh milk and other milk products.
Agri-Expo – Agri-Expo is an agricultural organisation which runs numerous shows and events e.g. the South African Cheese Festival, SA Dairy Championship, various equestrian and breeder events and championships.
Dairy Standard Agency – Promoting the compliance of milk and other dairy products with product composition, food safety and metrology standards

Further reference:

Training and research


Companies involved


Dairies and Milk Processors

  • Bandini Cheese
  • Bergen Cheese
  • Buffalo Ridge Cheese Buffalo cheese and dairy products
  • Butlers Farmhouse Cheeses
  • Cairnbrogie Dairy
  • Caledon Food & Beverage / Dassiesfontein
  • Cape Cheese
  • Chrissie’s Country Cheese
  • Clover SA
  • Creighton Valley Cheese
  • Cremona Cheese
  • Dairy Corporation
  • Dairy Group
  • Dalewood Fromage
  • Darling Romery
  • De Pekelaar
  • Denmar Dairies
  • Deneys Swiss Dairy
  • Dewfresh
  • Douglasdale
  • East Rand Milk Suppliers
  • Fair Cape
  • Fairfield Dairy
  • Fairview Cheese
  • Forest Hill Cheesery / Anura
  • Fynboshoek Cheese
  • Gay’s Guersney Dairy
  • Hoekplaas Cheesery
  • Indezi River Cheese Company
  • Irene Dairy
  • Jasmyn Plaasprodukte
  • Just Milk
  • Kasselshoop Cheese
  • Klein River Cheese
  • Kokerboom Kaas
  • La Mont
  • La Petite France
  • Lactalis South Africa
  • Ladismith Cheese Company
  • Lancewood Cheese
  • Langbaken Karoo Cheese
  • Limpopo Dairy
  • Marrakesh Cheese Farm
  • Meze Foods
  • Milkwood Dairy
  • Montic Dairy
  • Mooi Vallei Suiwel
  • Morning Milk
  • Nestlé SA
  • Orange Grove Dairy
  • Puglia Cheese
  • Rand Dairy
  • Rhodes Food Group
  • River Glen Cheese
  • Southern African Milk Co-operative Ltd (SAMILCO)
  • Sundale Dairy
  • The Gourmet Greek
  • Transem
  • Underberg Dairy
  • Van Gaalen Kaasmakerij
  • Wegraakbosch Dairy
  • Woodlands Dairy
  • Zandam Cheese


Ingredients, equipment & other

  • Berry Astrapak
  • Central Milk
  • CJP Chemicals
  • Dynamiko Food Ingredients
  • Entreshar Enterprises
  • ELEAD Packaging Solutions Bottle filling equipment
  • Filmatic Packaging Systems
  • Finest Kind
  • Lab-o-Mat
  • Livetrack SA
  • Polyoak Packaging Group
  • Prime Pharma
  • SABS
  • Tetra Pak South Africa
  • The Home Brewer’s Shop

Websites and publications

Visit the websites of role players listed on this page.

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