The performance of cheese in 2018 was the result of the improved average incomes that enabled consumers to return to packaged cheese at the expense of unpackaged. The preferred traditional soft cheese within Romanian’s meals, “telemea”, and hard cheese were mainly responsible for the performance of the category.
Packaged hard cheese was most dynamic in volume terms in 2018 as a result of the recovery in incomes, which allowed consumers to pay greater attention to a product perceived as more sophisticated. The presence of domestic varieties, such as Dalia, Rucar, Penteleu and Dobrogea, stimulated consumption among some of the population enjoying higher incomes and upgrading their purchases.
“Telemea” in soft cheese was by far the best-selling cheese in Romania in 2018 and over the review period. Its popularity across all income segments of the population and throughout the entire country means that “telemea” is a symbol of domestic cheese.
Hochland Romania SRL continued to lead cheese in 2018. The company has succeeded in maintaining its leadership over the review period due to an active presence across the entire category.
International companies ranked above domestic players in 2018. The success came from expanded distribution and easier access to the shelves of modern retailers, but also the adoption of domestic varieties in their portfolios, such as “telemea” or Dalia and Rucar hard cheese.
Cheese is rather fragmented, with a large number of domestic regional players and their importance is visible mostly at this level. However, they have succeeded in gaining strong recognition in niche products such as goat milk and have entered modern retailing at a national level.
The growth of drinking milk products in 2018 was mainly the result of improving incomes, which led to a switch from artisanal fresh milk from different sources to packaged products in retail, the result of expansion by modern retailers and proximity convenience. Unpackaged milk from small farms continued to retain the perception that it is natural and healthy.
Goat milk was the best performer in both retail volume and value sales in 2018, which was the result of its increasing reputation of being low in cholesterol, low in fat and resulting in a lower incidence of allergies and digestive discomfort. Goat milk has emerged through the efforts of both international and domestic companies, of which Andechser Molkerei and Fabrica de Lapte Brasov SA were the most prominent.
The burgeoning health and wellness trend was strongly sustained by the improvement in incomes. The main result was the strong growth in full fat fresh milk in 2016-2018, when the increase in disposable income was at its most marked.
Albalact SA retained its leadership of drinking milk products in 2018 due to excellent distribution and advertising campaigns. Advertising supported its brand Zuzu’s overall leadership.
International companies dominated the competitive landscape of drinking milk products in 2018, as there was no purely domestic company present in the top 10 rankings. Lactalis consolidated its position and is present in the leading 10 companies with Albalact SA, Covalact SA and Dorna Lactate SA.
Private label held an important position in drinking milk products in 2018 due to the domination of retail by modern chains with their affordable prices. Due to the lower selling prices, private label has captured the attention of lower-income urban consumers.
Yoghurt and sour milk drinks were popular among consumers of all ages and incomes during the review period. The category benefited from established consumption habits, with the 2018 performance also boosted by the consumer perception of the products being natural and healthy.
The best performance of drinking yoghurt in 2018 was the result of higher incomes and changes in lifestyle, especially in large cities with busier lifestyles and where consumers are tempted to reduce the time spent on breakfast, instead showing increasing attention to snacks on the go. Drinking yoghurt has transformed into part of a rapid meal accompanied by other snacks.
In 2018, sour milk products remained popular in Romania. The traditional “lapte batut” had a significant presence in an unpackaged format.
Danone continued to lead yoghurt and sour milk products in 2018. Its strength within yoghurt has maintained its overall leadership.
International companies dominated yoghurt and sour milk products in 2018. However, the leading four international players have domestic operations and the consolidation of operations was underway after the acquisition of Albalact SA and Covalact SA by Groupe Lactalis.
Small domestic players such as Super Lactis SRL and Novalact SRL have succeeded in gaining greater visibility due to yoghurt and sour milk products made from goat milk under the brands La Colline and Rupi, respectively. Consumer awareness increased due to the improved position of the brands on the shelves of modern retail chains such as supermarkets and hypermarkets.
Growth in other dairy in 2018 was the result of rising incomes. As consumers in the capital and the large cities are the heaviest consumers of other dairy, the effect of the increase in average incomes was noticeable in the performance of the category.
The strong performance by fromage frais and quark in 2018 was the consequence of a switch by consumers from cheaper homemade mixes of cream and cottage cheese to packaged varieties found under the generic name of Fagaras or as cottage cheese. Enjoying the perception of a suitable and rapid breakfast or office snack, fromage frais and quark benefited from the presence of a large number of manufacturers.
Cream was by far the largest category in other dairy but also the weakest performer in 2018. The main trend in the category was evident in the launch of high fat sour cream targeting Romanians who continue to rely on home cooking and are demanding better and healthier ingredients.
FrieslandCampina Romania retained its leadership of other dairy in 2018. The position of the company was the result of its strength in cream and fromage frais and quark.
International players were dominant in other dairy in 2018. Nationwide distribution, to reach the most remote localities, was the main strategy employed by the leading players.
Advertising was focused mainly on new launches, with Zuzu Dolce the main beneficiary of promoting its new launch, while the Kinder Pingui chilled snack was heavily advertised to reinforce recognition and awareness amongst consumers. The smaller categories benefited from the most intense advertising campaigns.
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This industry report originates from Passport, our Packaged Food market research database.