In January—April 2019, Russian manufactures produced 57.9 thousand tons of cheese, which is 10% more than in the same period last year, according to the data of Rosstat published by the Ministry of agriculture.
At the same time, the production of so-called cheese products containing milk and produced by cheese technology, but in which part of the milk fat is replaced by other components, especially vegetable fats, has decreased. In the first four months of 2019 there were produced 57.3 thousand tons of such products, which is 7.6% less than a year earlier.
Production of cheese products decreased for the first time in five years, says Artem Belov, Executive Director of the National Union of milk producers (Soyuzmoloko). For example, in 2018, according to the Ministry of agriculture, the production of cheese products increased by 5.4%, to 190 thousand tons, in 2017 — by 8.2%, to 182 thousand tons.
Until 2014, the share of cheese products in the diet of Russians, according to Belov, was small, but with the introduction of food embargo by Russia in response to the EU and US sanctions, as well as due to the economic crisis, the trend has changed. In the category of cheese products, which are usually cheaper than whole milk products, there began an active growth. Consumption of traditional cheeses at the same time stagnated.
This year, the production of not only different types of cheese, but also cottage cheese and yogurt is growing, which is facilitated by "a gradual change in consumer preferences," according to the materials of the Ministry of agriculture. The Ministry did not respond to the request of RBC.
The Rosselkhoznadzor offers its interpretation of the events. The reduced production of cheese products, according to the representative of the Rosselkhoznadzor Yulia Melano, is due to three reasons: the imminent entry of dairy products into the electronic veterinary certification system "Mercury", "active work with the consumer through the media", as well as "the intensive practice of the Rosselkhoznadzor, which withdrew Declaration of conformity of quality for dairy products, including cheese from dishonest manufacturers".
The expected full implementation of the “Mercury” system could play a role in reducing the production of cheese products, Belov admits. The system is designed to track the movement of products from the "field to the counter", since July 1 this year it will register the finished dairy products, which will change the situation with incorrect labeling of products.
Now the “Mercury” system controls only the flow of raw milk to processors, but not the output of finished products, says Dmitry Matveev, President of the “Cabosh” Group (one of the five largest milk producers in Russia and produces more than 20 traditional varieties of cheese). Therefore, in his opinion, “Mercury” will be able to influence the dynamics of cheese production only after July.