In parallel with Poland’s increasing wealth and developing economy, consumer interest in less common and atypical types of cheese is growing. Traditionally popular types such as Gouda and Edam are becoming slightly less popular in favour of Camembert, Salami, Mozzarella and Emmental in unprocessed cheese.
While consumption of hard cheese continued to increase in 2019, there was an interesting difference between that of unpackaged and packaged cheese. The latter recorded much stronger retail volume growth, with packaged hard cheese boosting growth of cheese in general.
Spreadable processed cheese benefited from the declining interest in margarine in 2019, as customers sought more flavoursome and potentially healthier alternatives. Taking advantage of this, SM Mlekovita, one of the leaders in butter, launched a spreadable processed cheese under its Wypasione umbrella brand in September 2018.
After recent packaging innovations focusing on resealable packs or portioning, a new trend was observed in 2018/2019, with spreadable processed cheese becoming available in packaging suitable for on-the-go consumption. In 2018 Hochland Polska introduced a pack type addressing on-the-go trend with four connected containers of 30g each.
Other processed cheese in Poland was traditionally characterised by processed cheese in slices designed for grilling or toasting. However, cheese sticks are becoming increasingly popular in Poland, as discounters introduce the format under their private label ranges, including Lidl Polska Sklepy Spozywcze’s Bluedino and Biedronka’s Miami.
Private label combined held the largest retail value share of cheese and recorded strong growth in 2019. Discounters in Poland are at the forefront in terms of introducing foreign products and the private label lines in this channel are often the most widely available and cheapest option when consumers are seeking products which are less traditional in Polish cuisine, such as Parmigiano cheese, which is offered by the Biedronka and Lidl private label ranges.
Soy drinks and other milk alternatives are expected to perform strongly over the forecast period. Growth will be boosted by an increasing number of health-orientated consumers, vegetarians avoiding milk, and vegans.
Polish consumers are increasingly aware of the health benefits of fresh milk, leading fresh milk to record stronger retail volume growth than shelf stable milk over the review period and into 2019. An additional important factor is the growing availability of packaged fresh milk in rural areas.
Cow’s milk will undoubtedly remain the largest category within drinking milk products over the forecast period and indeed one of the largest industries in Poland. The industry is heavily interwoven with Polish and European laws, regulations and global trends.
Sales of drinking milk products in Poland in 2019 were led by two domestic local milk companies, namely SM Mlekpol and SM Mlekovita. They have each cemented their leadership through well-developed distribution networks, their long presence in Poland, low costs of production due to direct cooperation with domestic farmers, and extensive advertising campaigns, resulting in similar value shares at the end of the review period.
The competitive landscape within milk may witness high levels of consolidation over the forecast period. Domestic players, which form the majority of the competitive landscape, are already discussing the need for consolidation.
Alpro, locally managed by Sante A Kowalski, remained the leading brand in milk alternatives in 2019, mainly due to its strong position in soy drinks. The brand offers a wide portfolio of products consisting of various flavours and formats of milk alternatives, although its main competitive advantage is its long history in the country which has led to strong brand recognition.
Kefir has a long history and well-established position within sour milk products in Poland and for many years there were few alternatives available other than buttermilk and plain sour milk. However, Turkish ayran yoghurt drink has recently been introduced nationally by Lidl Polska Sklepy Spozywcze under its Pilos private label line.
Plain yoghurt is regarded as a healthy choice and benefits from the health and wellness trend. It is a major part of a balanced diet, while drinking yoghurt additionally benefits from the snacking and on-the-go consumption trends.
The low price levels of yoghurt and sour milk products can prevent players from developing new product formats. One interviewed company had considered launching fortified/functional yoghurt in the form of shots, but, in order to be profitable, its price would have to be well above the average price of fortified/functional products and the player felt that Polish customers would probably therefore not be interested.
Danone led yoghurt and sour milk products until 2018 when Zott Polska replaced it as the leading player. Although Danone controls a wide portfolio of products and well-known brands in yoghurt and sour milk products, such as Danone, Actimel, Activia, Fantasia and Kefir, it is losing its grip on sales in Poland due to a lack of innovative ideas to distinguish its products and apply them to contemporary consumers.
Retail volume growth of yoghurt and sour milk products has been supported by introducing new variants of existing products. Greek yoghurt was the first example of this, and towards the end of the review period skyr entered the country.
Although private label has a strong share in yoghurt and sour milk products, it does struggle to compete with the major players. Price competition is intense between the leaders, Zott Polska, Danone and Bakoma, and thus private label can lose its competitive advantage, especially as some consumers still regard private label products as being of lower quality.
Fromage frais and quark benefited from the health and wellness and on-the-go trends in 2019, with plain cottage cheese in convenient 200g packaging, for example, becoming a direct competitor and healthy alternative to chilled dairy desserts or flavoured yoghurt. To take advantage of these trends producers introduced a variety of innovative variants, such as OSM Piatnica with a 2019 high-protein version of its Serek Wiejski cottage cheese.
Lactose free cottage cheeses such as Serek Wiejski Bez Laktozy by OSM Piatnica and Mlekovitka Serek Wiejski Bez Laktozy by SM Mlekovita recorded strong growth in 2019 due to increased availability in the leading discounters and convenience stores. Lidl Polska Sklepy Spozywcze and Biedronka also offer lactose free variants and are increasing the awareness of these products.
Chilled dairy desserts is a mature category and recorded mediocre retail volume growth in 2019. With only two players with significant shares, Zott Polska and Bakoma, both acknowledged and with well-established brands, competition is less intense than in other dairy categories with little incentive for innovation.
Previously only regular chilled snacks in the form of milk sandwich types were available in Poland. Some private label owners, including Lidl Polska Sklepy Spozywcze and Biedronka, have recently introduced chilled snacks consisting of a sweet curd, often covered in chocolate, in the form of a chilled countline.
Compared to yoghurt, drinking milk products or cheese, other dairy boasts a fairly large number of companies, with only the two leaders, OSM Piatnica and SM Mlekpol, holding double-digit retail value shares in 2019. The fragmentation results from the variety of products within other dairy where producers do not compete with each other across categories, but instead focus on their own speciality: chilled and shelf stable desserts is led by Zott Polska, chilled snacks is dominated by Ferrero Polska, coffee whiteners is led by Maspex GMW, while SM Gostyn has strong lead in condensed milk.
The combined retail value share of private label increased in 2019 due to its wide presence in the generic categories of cream and fromage frais and quark, where its lower price point is a serious advantage as consumers see little differentiation in these categories between private label and branded products. Discounters and supermarkets are the most popular retail channels for other dairy, and most offer private label lines in the category.
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Discover the latest market trends and uncover sources of future market growth for the Dairy industry in Poland 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.