TEHRAN: The Iranian dairy industry is beginning to expand, as dairy companies now target export destinations such as Russia, according to DairyReporter, a French news service in dairy processing industry. Last month, Pegah Iran Dairy Industries Company opened the largest milk powder factory in Iran in Lorestan Province. The company is also undergoing growth, with the opening of Aligudarz Animal Husbandry Complex with a capacity of 2,000 livestocks and a daily production of 80 tons of raw milk. Pegah, which has 17 production facilities and five distribution companies throughout the country, makes a range of dairy products, including cheese, milk, doogh (a savory yogurt drink), yogurt, powder and cream. Mehdi Hajibeygi, international affairs manager at Iran Dairy Industries Company, told DairyReporter the industry is healthy and improving. He noted that six factories are listed on Tehran Stock Exchange, with Pegah leading the way with a 21% market share. Kalleh has a 16% market share and Damdaran held 8.6%.
In terms of brand awareness, Hajibeygi said Pegah tops the list in the country at 22%, with Kalleh close behind with 21%. Hajibeygi said Pegah dominates when it comes to brand choice, with 39% of consumers choosing Pegah pasteurized milk as their first choice and 46% naming Pegah as the top domestic cheese brand. “International companies have not made a big impression in the Iranian dairy market. However, Danone does have a good presence in the country,” he said.
Nestlé is another international company with presence in Iran. Other countries are starting to import Iranian dairy products, which last year amounted to 387,000 tons worth $634 million, marking an increase of 19%. While the three most important export markets are Russia, Iraq and Afghanistan, products are also exported to Pakistan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Azerbaijan, Kuwait, Qatar, Malaysia, Thailand, the UK, Canada, Austria, Lebanon, Syria and Georgia. Hajibeygi said exports to Russia are increasing. Deputy Minister of Agriculture Hassan Rokni said 198,000 tons of dairy products were exported in March-April 2017, compared to 103,000 tons in the same period of 2016. “Trends in Iran tend to mirror those in other countries, as probiotic and low-lactose products are trending,” he said. Pegah’s protein-enriched butter and fiber yogurts are new products, which have taken advantage of current trends.