JIS News

Story Highlights

  • With Jamaicans consuming 50 per cent less milk than the World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends, four companies have formed a partnership to promote the consumption of Jamaican milk and revive the island’s dairy industry.
  • Dubbed the ‘Drink Real Milk’ campaign, the companies - CB Group (through Nutramix), Seprod Limited (through Serge Island), Newport Fersan Jamaica Limited and the Jamaica Dairy Development Board - have come together to increase the production and consumption of Jamaican milk over the next 10 years.
  • The campaign, to cost $10 million annually, also aims to reduce the country’s import bill for milk and milk substitutes and unemployment. The target is to produce 20 million litres annually, through a sustainable and self sufficient industry.

With Jamaicans consuming 50 per cent less milk than the World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends, four companies have formed a partnership to promote the consumption of Jamaican milk and revive the island’s dairy industry.

Dubbed the ‘Drink Real Milk’ campaign, the companies – CB Group (through Nutramix), Seprod Limited (through Serge Island), Newport Fersan Jamaica Limited and the Jamaica Dairy Development Board – have come together to increase the production and consumption of Jamaican milk over the next 10 years.

The campaign, to cost $10 million annually, also aims to reduce the country’s import bill for milk and milk substitutes and unemployment. The target is to produce 20 million litres annually, through a sustainable and self sufficient industry.

Additionally, the players aim to overhaul the industry by introducing fundamentally different approaches to farming, processing and retailing to the end consumer. This will be done through the introduction of new and improved technology, farm management practices and new pasture management programmes.

In an interview with JIS News at the recent launch of the campaign, Chief Executive Officer, Jamaica Dairy Development Board, Hugh Graham, says the initiative will assist the country to expand its milk production, while targeting particular groups.

“When you increase the demand, it means that there is an opportunity to supply more milk and for our farmers to expand, so from a business point of view, what we are likely to see is an increase in investments in dairying,” he argues.

The consumption of milk and milk substitutes accounts for more than 60 million litres annually, with imports valued at US$52 million per annum.

These figures have led to a decline in the annual production of local milk from 600 farmers producing 38.8 million litres in 1992 to less than 200 farmers supplying approximately 12 million litres in 2015.

Mr. Graham notes that 90 per cent of the island’s dairy consumption is imported, pointing out that this campaign will assist in “reversing that trend.”

“We are very optimistic that we will have positive outcomes and that this campaign will help to grow the industry,” he tells JIS News.

Meanwhile, Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Seprod Group, Richard Pandohie, says the initiative will have spin off benefits for farmers.

“An increase in our consumption will result in more farmers going back to the industry, providing more jobs, saving the country massive foreign exchange by import substitution and earning foreign exchange by exporting, especially within the Caribbean,” he tells JIS News.

Since trade liberalization in the 1990s local production has been on a sharp decline and the national herd, which once stood at over 75,000 cows, has been reduced to less than 30,000.

For her part, Brand Manger, Nutramix, Tina Hamilton, says the campaign will be undertaken in several phases, and that the first phase will be focused on awareness.

“(We will be) getting persons to understand that there is a problem with the dairy industry and that people are coming together to find a solution,” she adds.

Ms. Hamilton says this action by the partners can attract others persons to come on board to make their contribution.

She notes that while the role of each partner may be different, the ultimate goal is to revive the island’s dairy industry.

Ms. Hamilton points out that the CB Group, through Nutramix, will provide quality cattle feed.

“We have developed a programme, with assistance from companies in the Netherlands – one company in particular, called Nuscience –  to develop a calf rearing programme and dairy feed project that will help the producer to gain a significant amount of production as well as save money. The average time for a heifer to produce a calf is about 36 months in the country. The programme that we have will allow them to calve between 22 and 24 months,” she notes.

She says the company will also be expanding its involvement in the genetic field by importing semen to help improve local breeds.

As it relates to Seprod’s contribution, Mr. Pandohie says: “Our investment of over $500 million in the Serge Island Factory and Farms in the last 12 months has set the platform for some exciting innovations over the next six months”.

“We expect to reduce the level of import substitution by the end of this year. We have to concentrate not only on liquid milk, but on yogurt, cheese and butter – the value added portion of it,” he says.

Business Development Manager at Newport Fersan, Hedda Rose Pitter, notes that her company, through its Precise Nutrient Management System, will seek  to enhance pasture production on  the approximately 2,000 acres of land earmarked for grazing.

“This commitment includes taking samples, analyzing these samples, providing a nutrient programme, blending the fertiliser required, in addition to supporting the technical team at Seprod,” he adds.

Per capita consumption of milk remains at 105 millilitres per day. This is one-third the average for Latin America and the Caribbean; one-fifth the average for developed countries; slightly less than the average of other developing countries; and half of the WHO’s minimum requirement.

The ‘Drink Real Milk’ execution plan is twofold and takes into consideration production and consumer education strategies.

The production strategy seeks to improve: animal health, including improved breeding and husbandry techniques; access to better genetic material; cost of the feed component, through customised feeding programmes and proper pasture management.

The consumer education strategy will:  encourage consumption of fresh, locally produced milk to support the island’s farmers; promote the health benefit s of drinking milk; and share additional benefits of drinking milk versus powdered milk.

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