- While countries use high tariffs to protect products like fresh milk and cheese because of the vast subsidies received by European farmers through the EU's Common Agricultural Policy, they have not done so for milk powder and concentrated milk. These benefit from a low 5 percent tariff because they are considered by governments in the region as a necessity for less advantaged people and children.
Local producers say that has created a back door that allows the cheaper imitation milk to enter the market. Pioneered by Irish dairy conglomerates such as Ornua and Lakeland at the beginning of the millennium, fat-filled powder was the answer for butter manufacturers searching for a market for the protein-rich whey that they are left with after extracting the fat from milk for their primary product. In order to avoid the expensive process of discarding thousands of tons of whey, companies found that they could reproduce a milk-like substance by adding palm oil and other vegetable derivatives such as rapeseed oil.
Although not a success with European consumers, Africa was an ideal market thanks to the lower purchasing power of its citizens and the growing populations in countries such as Nigeria, Niger and Senegal. Europe also sells the product to countries in the Middle East and Asia.