Chairman of the Board of the Estonian Dairy Association
Estonian agriculture is versatile and has a centuries-old tradition. According to today’s agricultural policy, the dairy industry, which provides over one-fourth of Estonian agriculture’s income, is a prioritized sector.
The development of the dairy industry has, in part, been contributed to by the country’s natural characteristics, the quantity of solar energy and precipitation which allows dairy goods to be produced at a relatively low cost. However, it is at least as important that cattle breeding over the course of the entire past century has rendered our livestock very productive.
Due to the small size of the Estonian market, the local dairy industry is very export centered – almost half of the dairy products manufactured in Estonia are sold outside of the country. Since the quality of Estonian milk and dairy products is one of the highest in Central and Eastern Europe, we have managed to become a player in, at least, the “first division” of the European dairy market. Naturally, our efforts are now directed at reaching the premier league.
It is the mission of the Estonian Dairy Association to uphold the competitiveness of the local dairy industry both in the Estonian market and abroad. The Dairy Association comprises most Estonian dairy producers, who procure approximately 90% of the local primary produce.
Through the Dairy Association we communicate with our international partner organizations and participate in state-level discussions concerning dairy-related legislation. In 2004, the Estonian Ministry of Agriculture awarded us with the title of their best collaboration partner.
During the last years, Estonian dairy industry, like our country’s economy as a whole, has become truly international. Much of the industry has been acquired by foreign capital and investors have been expressing interest in Estonian farms. This is a clear sign of their belief in the sustainability of the Estonian dairy industry.
Estonia has thus far exported mainly butter and milk powder and it is our duty to increase the efficiency of the production and expand the selection of exported goods with value added products. It is not easy to meet this objective due to the competitiveness of the international market, but our entrepreneurs are accustomed to overcoming obstacles and finding new business opportunities.
Luckily our consumers in Estonia are very demanding, yet loyal, which provides the producers with incentive for innovations. We are also grateful to the Estonian public sector, especially the Ministry of Agriculture, where it has been understood that the profitability and therefore the future of the whole dairy industry is dependent on producers finding new markets and being capable of exporting their goods. The success of the dairy industry is, after all, a question of national pride, since Estonians have long believed that one must always have milk and butter on one’s dinner table.