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How much is a cup of milk this Ramadan?

Updated Feb 17, 2021
Milk takes a significant part of the consumption basket during Ramadan as this is consumed together with dates to signal the short break of fasting after sunset. The importance of sufficient milk supply is reflected in the gravity that Islamic nations place on acquiring milk supply months before the religious celebration. The article looked into the demand and price of milk during Ramadan on both pre-COVID and post-COVID periods and identified changes and their implications.

Ramadan is a month-long religious celebration observed by Muslims in commemoration of Muhammad every ninth month of the Islamic calendar, which ranges from April to May on the solar calendar. In 2021, Ramadan will take place from April 12 to May 12. During this period, Muslims fast from dawn to sunset for a month and are allowed to have two meals a day; The first meal before dawn is Suhoor, and the second meal after sunset is Iftar. During Iftar, families, and communities gather and inaugurate the short break of the fast by eating dates to reminisce Muhammad’s practice of eating three dates to break the fast. This is often accompanied by drinking milk.

Milk demand in the Islamic market

Due to highly restrictive food intake during Ramadan, Muslims become extra conscious of the nutritional value of food and beverages. Thus, milk, which contains high calcium and is easily digestible, is a strongly recommended and greatly consumed beverage during Ramadan. The vitality of milk in this religious festival is reflected in various Islamic nations’ efforts to obtain enough supply months before Ramadan. In 2002, Dubai reported a milk shortage due to high demand during Ramadan and local suppliers’ inability to meet the demand. The United Arab Emirates Dairy Producers Association took the shortage seriously and announced an after-Ramadan meeting with producers and local farms to solve the problem. Additionally, during the Gulf crisis in June 2017 when Qatar was banned from using airspace and sea routes of its surrounding countries, Qatar immediately secured milk supply by airlifting 3,000 cows from California, Arizona, and Wisconsin and forming local milk production facilities. According to Abdessalem Loued, the CEO of a Tunisian company, products such as eggs, dates, and milk experience stronger demand starting even three months before Ramadan. These incidents reflect the importance of a sufficient milk supply and the strong milk demand during Ramadan.

Milk price trends before Ramadan

The report compared monthly raw milk prices of four European countries with the highest concentration of Muslims, namely France (8.8%) and Sweden (8.1%), and the lowest concentration, namely Poland (<0.1%) and Czechia (0.2%). The comparison is limited to selected European countries due to data constraints. France and Sweden generally have higher raw milk prices compared to Poland and Czechia. The reason behind the price gap may be a consolidation of different market factors. In the case of Poland, the country is known for having one of the cheapest meat and dairy products among European countries. Starting off from a higher price range, both France and Sweden showed price spikes in April, a month before Ramadan potentially due to an increase in consumer demand. France had the highest surge in market prices for raw milk in April. For Poland and Czechia, the price trend seemed to be identical- a downward trend from January to August and an upward trend from September to December. Although even France and Sweden aren’t dominant Islamic countries, the difference in price trends with Poland and Czechia shows the influence of Ramadan on milk prices. 

Source: European Commission

Effect of COVID-19 on milk demand and prices

COVID-19 is expected to bring significant changes to how Ramadan will be observed this year. Usually, during pre-COVID years, numerous Muslims would congregate and spend days and nights at mosques to offer long prayers. The streets would also be filled with bazaars selling various delicacies for both Muslims and non-Muslims. However, due to the risk of mass infection, the World Health Organization has been reiterating the importance of physical distancing measures and reminding governments to advise their citizens on dos and don'ts. It is expected that families will avoid gatherings and spend Iftar individually or with limited family members only. Similar to last year, community-based activities such as donation drives and bazaars will not take place. With mass celebrations and gatherings banned, the market situation is expected to be similar to last year wherein milk demand was lower compared to pre-COVID Ramadan. The raw milk market price graph during January-June, 2020 for France and Sweden, the major Islamic nations in Europe, did not show any notable surge before or during the Ramadan period. Their prices were rather at a steady. On the other hand, Poland and Czechia, European countries with the least Muslims, experienced a deep fall starting February 2020. A similar stagnant milk price trend is expected this year with limited movements and activities allowed during Ramadan. 

Source: Tridge, European Commission


  • Aljazeera. How will the coronavirus pandemic change Ramadan for Muslims? 
  • Bloomberg. Qatar Is Shipping In 3,000 Cows From California, Arizona and Wisconsin

  • Brazil Arab News Agency. Despite the fasting, Ramadan drives demand for food

  • European Commission. EU Market Price for Raw Milk 

  • The Hindu. A different kind of Iftar during the lockdown

  • UAE. Dubai almost run out of dairy products 

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