According to statistics from the Bank of Estonia, Estonians visited foreign countries 3.7 million times in 2017, which is a huge number when the size of the population is taken into consideration.
In line with global trends, Estonians increasingly prefer more natural and health-oriented packaged food products. This has resulted in growing demand for cheese products from small local producers, which look set to continue gaining ground in this category over the forecast period.
The vast majority of Estonians buy cheese from supermarkets or hypermarkets, with most preferring locally produced packaged and pre-sliced products. However, specialty cheese shops are also gaining popularity, especially among more demanding consumers.
Estover OÜ continued to lead cheese in value terms in 2018. The success of this company is based on its wide selection of locally produced hard cheese products.
The top three companies in cheese accounted for a large combined share of retail current value sales in 2018. However, the remainder of the category remained quite fragmented, with a wide and diverse selection of local and foreign products present.
Estonians traditionally prefer full fat fresh milk. The most popular fresh milk products on retail shelves typically have a fat content of 2.
Organic dairy products in Estonia has historically been a relatively niche area dominated by farms and smaller manufacturers. However, in 2018 Saaremaa Piimatööstus became the first large dairy manufacturer in the country to launch organic drinking milk products.
Fresh milk products are widely available via grocery retailer outlets of all types and sizes in Estonia. Shelf stable milk meanwhile is considerably less popular, and distribution of this niche product type is mainly confined to bigger supermarkets outlets.
While Tere continued to lead drinking milk products in value terms in 2018, the company’s restructuring was still ongoing. MAAG Grupp AS, the owner of Farmi Piimatööstus, acquired the loan claims of the biggest creditors of Tere and its related companies in spring 2017.
Drinking milk products in Estonia is dominated by local manufacturers. These include Valio Eesti, which belongs to larger international group Valio Oy but is considered a local manufacturer due to its maintenance of a production site in Estonia.
Drinking milk products remained highly consolidated in 2018, with top three players Tere, Valio Eesti and Farmi Piimatööstus accounting for the lion’s share of retail current value sales. Farmi Piimatööstus was the most dynamic of these players in current value growth terms, while Tere continued to see its value share decline due to the negative publicity and uncertainty surrounding its restructuring process.
The trend towards eating low-calorie and low-fat foods has largely passed in Estonia. When it comes to yoghurt and other dairy categories, consumers now increasingly favour products that are made with natural ingredients and high in fat.
Sour milk products continue to hold a strong position in Estonia. Buttermilk and kefir have played an important role in Estonian cuisine for decades, and traditional varieties of these product types remain popular among older people.
Flavoured yoghurt in Estonia offers a huge number of different products in a variety of pack sizes. While large and small manufacturers in the category are constantly active in terms of new product development, genuine innovations have historically been relatively rare.
Local manufacturers dominate yoghurt in Estonia. Estonians traditionally prefer the taste of locally manufactured yoghurt products, and also consider them to be healthier than imported alternatives.
Tere, Valio and Farmi Piimatööstus remained the top three players in sour milk products in 2018, and together accounted for the lion’s share of the category’s retail current value sales. As in yoghurt, leading company Tere saw its value share decline over the review period due to negative publicity arising from its financial problems and restructuring efforts.
The PROfeel range was launched by Valio in 2015, and quickly gained popularity among health-conscious consumers in Estonia. In late 2017 this range was expanded with the launch of PROfeel protein drinking yoghurt in a number of flavours.
Estonia has a long history of curd production. For centuries, almost every farm in the country made its own curd.
Cream is widely used in Estonia. Depending on the fat content, it is used in the preparation of desserts and sauces, or as a coffee whitener.
Chilled dairy desserts and chilled snacks remain popular among Estonians. For example, Glasuurkohuke (glazed curd snack), which is considered a local specialty, appeals to consumers of all ages.
Domestic manufacturers continued to dominate fromage frais and quark in Estonia in 2018, reflecting the traditionally strong consumer preference for products of local origin in this category. Tere remained the leading player in value terms, closely followed by Farmi Piimatööstus.
Ferrero SpA remained the clear leader in chilled snacks in value terms in 2018. Its famous Kinder Pingui brand and other Kinder products are especially popular among children and young teenagers in Estonia.
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Discover the latest market trends and uncover sources of future market growth for the Dairy industry in Estonia with research from Euromonitor's team of in-country analysts.
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This industry report originates from Passport, our Packaged Food market research database.