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Cheese plant hopes for tiny piece of huge export market

For gaining access to the vast export market in the People’s Republic of China, Latvia is a tiny country with very big ambitions, Ēvalds Putniņš, co-owner and board chairman of cheese-maker Limbažu siers, told newswire BNS Thursday.

"Of course you can sell things there, but do you think little Latvia could feed great China? That’s silly! We can provide them with just a smidgen. We are just too small of a state, but we have very big ambitions, and so it probably should be,” he said.

He went on to point out that Latvian goods are by no means the leaders in product-quality on the Chinese market and that the only way to compete is by competitive pricing. “At current price levels we can compete, but the range of products for the Chinese market is quite limited,” he said, adding that there is no demand for cottage cheese or sour cream, and the global market is currently oversaturated with butter supplies.

Limbažu siers was founded in 1993 but halted production in 2013 amidst sharp increases in milk prices. It did however manage to resume production at the beginning of last year, posting a turnover of €3.13 million and €913,000 in losses.

Limbažu siers had to change its name after a change in ownership of the dairy plant last April, which used to be called Limbažu piens, now a trade name controlled by dairy conglomerate Food Union, owner of dairy plants Rīgas piena kombināts and Valmieras piens.

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