• Florida Bebidas, owners of the country’s brewery, adds competition to Costa Rica’s milk market

(QExclusive) Dos Pinos, once the king and only player in Costa Rica’s  milk market is now facing increased competition, not only of imports from Nicaragua, but also locally from Florida Bebidas, the same folks who brew the country’s beer.

What did the cow say to the eagle by the water on the shelf? Mu!

After buying a dairy cooperative Coopeleche, located in San Ramon de Alajuela, Florida Bebidas has launched its brand of milk Mu!, and soon will be competing in sour cream, ice cream and yogurt.

The new milk product has started to appear in the supermarkets dairy section and is under the direction of Florida Dairy Drinks and Beverages, the same division that bottles and distributes Cristal water, Pepsi products, natural drinks and juices. Florida Bebidas also owns the Cerverceria de Costa Rica, the brewer of the country’s, Imperial, Pilsen, Rock Ice and Bavaria beers. The Cerveceria also brews locally under license, Heineken.

Costa Rica produces about 2.6 million litres of milk a day of which between 60% and 65% is industrialized and the rest is used in rural areas in the preparation of cheese, sour cream and other derivatives.

Nicaragua’s Parmalat and Eskimo brands has recently begun appearing on supermarket shelves. Though it is not known exactly how much milk the two companies are importing, they are attempting to change Tico habits of buying only Costa Rican milk.

In addition to Parmalat and Eskimo, the Sabemas milk brand, which is only available in Walmart owned stores (Walmart, Mas x Menos, Pali, Maxi Pali and Maxi Bodega) is also from Nicaragua, though most Costa Rica do not bother to read the label.

Meanwhile, Dos Pinos is looking to greener pastures, so to speak, for its products. The company began this year to ship containers of UHT (long life) milk to Venezuela.

Although the three products do not appear together (used here for illustration purposes) on store shelves, Florida Bebidas now covers all drinking needs.

Jorge Pattoni, general manager of Dos Pinos, was quoted in La Nacion last June as saying “the Venezuelan market has great potential because it is highly deficient in dairy products”. The Cosa Rican milk is being marketed in Venezuela’s capital of Caracas, as well as the cities of Valencia and Maracaibo.

The price varies between the brands. Generally the range is from ¢650 colones per litre to ¢900, depending on  the milk product – regular, 2%, 3%, semi-fat, no fat and non-dairy  – and the supermarket.