Cheese continued its strong growth in 2018 largely driven by an influx of value-added, premium cheeses and manufacturers’ increased focus on individually-packed cheese in flexible packaging. Packaged hard cheese in slices was increasingly popular in 2018.
Cheese continued to witness increased premiumisation in 2018. New brands continue to enter the local market, which is small but increasingly discriminating with growing demand for high-quality soft and ripened cheeses.
In 2018, spreadable processed cheese achieved the second highest retail value growth within cheese. There is an increased presence of new brands and products, including a number of key new launches made by domestic dairy and cheese manufacturers.
In 2018, the largest domestic dairy manufacturer in Macedonia, IMB Mlekara Bitola ad, maintained a solid lead within cheese with a moderately increasing value share thanks to continued market penetration with its packaged hard and soft cheeses and, in part, increased focus on premium packaged hard cheese. Its company ranking and success are a direct result of the solid performance of its rich and diverse brand portfolio, led by Bitolsko Sirenje and Bitolski Kaskaval and their brand extensions based on the type of milk used to produce the particular cheese (cow’s – Kravjo/Kravji, sheep – Ovco/Ovci, and mixed – Meshan/Meshano).
Another dairy company based in the southern Macedonian town of Bitola, Ideal Sipka ad, ranked second in cheese in 2018 with a moderately decreasing value share. Its good overall position is due to the strength of its diverse brand portfolio led by the eponymous cheese brand, Ideal Sipka.
In 2018, cheese in Macedonia continued to be dominated by domestic brands and cheese manufacturing companies. The remaining value sales are of cheese brands owned by regional dairy and cheese manufacturers, as well as several German, French, Dutch and Danish companies.
Negative demographic trends tend to limit the volume growth of drinking milk products as there are fewer regular consumers. On the other hand, health and wellness trends, coupled with local consumers’ continuously evolving diets in line with global weight management and wellbeing trends, frequently exclude dairy products, including drinking milk, and rely more on fruit, vegetables and non-animal protein.
Amid the general trend towards substituting drinking milk for other types of healthy food, semi skimmed shelf stable milk is an exception and a true winner thanks to the effects of health and wellness trends. In 2018, semi skimmed shelf stable milk achieved the highest retail current value growth, primarily due to increased volume demand by health and wellness enthusiasts who prefer taking their cereals with drinking milk which contains less fat.
Lactose intolerance, or lactose malabsorption, is a well-known condition, being the inability to fully digest the sugar (lactose) in milk. It results in diarrhoea, gas and bloating after consuming dairy products, especially drinking milk.
IMB Mlekara Bitola ad is Macedonia’s largest dairy manufacturing company. It dominates drinking milk products with a significantly increasing value share, partly as a result of the gap left by the withdrawal of the Dukat brand which the company was quick to occupy together with several other players.
Croatian company, Vindija dd, in second place lags behind dominant IMB Mlekara Bitola ad in terms of value share, but is closely followed by domestic company Zdravje Radovo doo. Vindija’s value share of drinking milk products increased in 2018 as the company improved the distribution of its shelf stable milk products sold under the Z Bregov brand name.
In 2018, domestic companies increased their overall value share of drinking milk products thanks to the great improvements in the value share of dominant IMB Mlekara Bitola ad and those of Zdravje Radovo doo, Sütas AS and Mlekara Tetovo ad. The majority of drinking milk products sold locally are brands manufactured in Macedonia, while the remainder are regional brands by companies such as Vindija dd, Imlek AD, Ljubljanske Mlekarne dd, and Niska Mlekara ad.
Yoghurt and sour milk products seems to be immune to any crisis which Macedonia faces. The products are frequently consumed throughout the day, hence the strong growth and significant amount of sales.
Yoghurt and sour milk products is expected to capitalise on the latest health and wellness craze which increasingly obsesses locals in Macedonia, like most people around the globe. The dairy products in yoghurt and sour milk products are highly thought of and heavily used in contemporary health and wellness diets, which are based on low consumption of fats and carbohydrates and increased consumption of proteins, grains, dried fruits and fresh (super)fruits.
Several domestic companies have embraced the growing significance of health and wellness trends by launching their own versions of functional yoghurt brand extensions. With this added value they have managed to increase the average unit prices of their yoghurt and sour milk products sold locally and have contributed to the overall increase in unit prices of yoghurt and sour milk products.
Dukat dd, a Croatian company globally owned by Groupe Lactalis, led yoghurt and sour milk products in Macedonia in 2018 with a moderately decreasing value share. The overall performance and value share of Dukat derives from the combined strength of its eponymous brand portfolio.
IMB Mlekara Bitola ad ranked second within yoghurt and sour milk products in 2018 with a moderately growing value share thanks to improved distribution leading to further penetration of its brand, Bitolski Jogurt, and its new Balans +. These brands enjoy significant market coverage and local consumers recognise them for their exceptional quality and product consistency.
Besides IMB Mlekara Bitola, there are several large domestic dairy companies commanding a significant value share of yoghurt and sour milk products. These include Zdravje Radovo doo, whose value share increased over the late review period, and Mlekara Bucen Kozjak doo, which has a stagnating value share but a solid presence and strong brand recognition and loyalty.
In 2018, other dairy continued to outperform most of its competitors within dairy in terms of retail current value growth. Its performance is mostly a result of the frequent new launches resulting from the significant innovation efforts made by key players and manufacturers of other dairy products.
The versatile use of cream as both a meal and cooking ingredient contributes to its significant and robust volume and value sales within other dairy. Cream in Macedonia is very affordable due to its low unit prices; as such, it is very popular both as an individual other dairy product which can be consumed alone or, in most cases, used as a cooking ingredient, especially when cooking meats and vegetables in white, dairy-based sauces.
Frequent new launches based on innovation in terms of ingredients, flavours, combinations, design and packaging have a positive impact on other dairy in Macedonia. Chilled dairy desserts and chilled snacks are among the most dynamic.
In 2018, German-based company Zott GmbH & Co KG led other dairy with a moderately growing value share thanks to the solid performance and strength of its brand portfolio. Zott GmbH & Co KG owns the top-selling brand within other dairy, Monte Snack.
In 2018, the largest domestic dairy company IMB Mlekara Bitola ad ranked second within other dairy with a stagnant value share due to increased competition and the entry of a number of competitively-priced economy and standard brands. The company’s main competing brand in other dairy is Bitolska Kisela Pavlaka which enjoys excellent distribution and brand recognition among local consumers.
In 2018, other dairy remained under the dominance of international brands and manufacturers. Domestic companies, led by IMB Mlekara Bitola ad, Ideal Sipka ad, Zdravje Radovo doo and few other smaller players and brands, occupied the lesser value share of other dairy in Macedonia in 2018.
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This industry report originates from Passport, our Packaged Food market research database.