Kenya dairy imports from Uganda nearly triples to $210m

Tuesday March 12 2024

An attendant arranges dairy products at Chieni supermarket in Nyeri town, Kenya on May 3, 2023. PHOTO | JOSEPH KANYI | NMG


Kenya’s dairy imports from Uganda nearly tripled in the year to June 2023, driven by increased production in the East African neighbour as well as a growth in demand from processors in Kenya.

The dairy products include butter, cheese, ghee, ultra-heat-treated (UHT) milk, yoghurt, and milk powder.

Data from the Uganda Dairy Development Authority (DDA), which is the regulator of the dairy sub-sector, shows the country exported dairy worth Ush810.56 billion (Ksh29.2 billion - $210.83 million) to Kenya during the period.

This translates to 83 percent of the total dairy products sold by Uganda during the period, cementing Kenya’s position as the country’s largest dairy market by far.

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It is also a growth of 187.6 percent from Ush281.83 billion (Ksh10.15 billion) worth of milk that the country, which is Kenya’s largest trading partner, exported to Nairobi in the period to June 2022.


During the period, Uganda’s overall dairy exports jumped 158 percent to hit $264.5 million (Ksh37.86 billion).

This is after the country’s production of milk grew by 37 percent to 3.85 billion litres during the period, up from 2.81 billion litres in the previous year.

“Dairy exports have been increasing over time except for the financial year 2020/21 which showed a drop due to the Covid-19 pandemic, however, in the last financial year 2022/23 there was a sharp increase in the value of exports by about 158 percent,” said DDA.

The jump in dairy imports from Uganda comes despite the restrictions that Kenya has put on the importation of some dairy products from its neighbour.

Uganda last year lamented about Kenya’s refusal to grant enough permits for traders to import milk from Kampala.

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“Talks to have access to Kenya, which is our biggest importer of dairy products, are continuing at the highest policy levels,” DDA acting Executive Director Samson Mpiira said in the regulator’s latest annual report.

Increased local production and imports from Uganda have helped stabilise prices of the drink which is a significant boost to consumers.

According to data from the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics, a 500-milliliter packet of fresh cow milk was retailing at Ksh57.31 last month.

This is a decline of 0.5 percent compared to an average price of Ksh57.61 in February last year.

A spot check at Naivas shows a 500ml packet of fresh milk is retailing between Ksh54 and Ksh68. At Carrefour, the drink is retailing at between Ksh47 and Ksh64.