December 2018 | Agri Review
25 December 2018

On April 3, 2015 the Government of Georgia adopted a technical regulation in the dairy sector in order to define major principles for the production, processing, and distribution of dairy products. Later in 2017, the regulation was amended and the law now strictly regulates the labelling of dairy products and particularly the use of terms such as “cheese” and “butter”. According to the regulation, a product can be called “cheese” only if it is produced from raw milk, and the use of milk powder for cheese making is prohibited. As for butter, it can only be produced with milk fat and the use of vegetable oil is not allowed.

While the regulation has been in force for a couple of years now, there are significant challenges to its implementation. It is particularly difficult to control the usage of milk powder in cheese production given that most cheese producers are unregistered family holdings.

Milk powder is used not only by unregistered family holdings but by registered producers as well, due to the desire to minimize production costs and in response to the deficit of safe, high-quality raw milk in the country. Statistics show that milk production in Georgia is declining while imports of milk powder are increasing in 2017, Georgia imported milk powder from 19 countries and 24% of imports came from Ukraine. Imports of vegetable oils are also increasing and most of them come from Azerbaijan (62%).

The major challenges associated with the implementation of technical regulations include the absence of control over non-registered dairy producers, who produce more than 97% of milk; lack of control over registered dairy producers and retailers, and low awareness of consumers about their role in the enforcement of technical regulations.