Healthy food trends help drive record Greek feta, yogurt exports
Growing awareness of the health benefits of the Mediterranean diet has driven Greek exports of its two most famous dairy products – feta cheese and yogurt – to record highs and led to new investment in the country’s dairy industry.
Richer in nutrients and lower in calories than many other popular cheeses, Greek feta exports to health conscious consumers in markets like Germany and France have jumped by double digit amounts in the past 12 months. In 2020 overall, Greek feta exports rose approximately 10% to €400 million, extending a continuous upward trend over the last two decades and further spurred by a recent online craze for baked feta pasta.
Likewise, Greek yogurt exports have risen steadily over the last two decades. Perceived as healthier with more protein and fewer calories, demand for Greek yogurt has risen worldwide even as consumption of milk and flavored yogurts in traditional markets like the U.S. and Europe has been on a long-term decline. Greek yogurt producers now export roughly 40% of total production, double the amount of ten years ago. Μarket research firm Technavio says the global market for Greek yogurt grew at a 6.27% rate in 2020 and is expected to accelerate further over the next four years.
Industry experts say that Greece’s two signature dairy products have established themselves in international markets and are now riding a consumer wave. The growing exports of feta cheese and Greek yogurt have drawn fresh investment into the Greek dairy sector, both domestically and from abroad.
Leading Greek dairy producers – like Fage, Delta, Dodoni, Kri Kri, Olympus, Mevgal – have all been investing in production capacity. And major foreign investors, including French food giant Danone and Netherlands-based FrieslandCampina, have also been investing in the Greek dairy sector.
Late last year, private equity fund CVC Capital Partners acquired Greek food and catering company Vivartia – the parent company of Delta – in a €600 million deal. Earlier this year, it acquired Dodoni and is said to be considering bids for dairy products companies Kolios and, possibly, Mevgal, which is 43.2% owned by Delta.