19 May 2004

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Which milk for breakfast?

By Kurt Sansone

Consumers have been revelling in the choice of milk products since the market was liberalised on 1 May with traditional Benna products facing stiff competition from imported longer shelf-life Italian and Dutch milk.
The removal of levies has seen the price of foreign milk products drop by more than half the pre 1 May price fuelling a higher than average consumer demand to the detriment of Malta-made fresh milk. Despite the price cut, Benna fresh milk is still cheaper even if it contains a fat content that is below the standard required by EU legislation – a transition period is in place before Maltese milk conforms with EU Directives. Imported milk is also providing strong competition as it comes in different varieties, some of which are not offered by Benna.
The uncertainty of the market has contributed to numerous rumours ranging from the utterly ridiculous to the impossible. Among the more serious were rumours that Benna milk was being thrown away by the crate-loads and government was considering a temporary ban on the distribution of foreign milk.
But a spokesman for the Rural Affairs ministry denied that government was contemplating a ban of any sorts. “It would go against EU trade policy to put in place a ban on foreign milk,” the official told The Malta Financial and Business Times.
“Government is monitoring the situation by keeping records of imported food products that are also produced in Malta, such as milk, with the aim of assessing the market. If it transpires that importers are dumping lower quality products onto the market government can take action – although even this would have to be approved by the EU Commission,” the spokesman said.
As for claims that Benna milk has been thrown away, the official said no such reports were received from Malta Dairy Products. “The market is still adjusting to the new reality and many people are still experimenting with the new products available. I have heard many rumours but it’s all a question of seeing how consumers settle down.”


Copyright © Newsworks Ltd. Malta.
Editor: Saviour Balzan
The Malta Financial & Business Times, Newsworks Ltd, Vjal ir-Rihan, San Gwann
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