In reality, fresh milk is not truly known and appreciated by the natives, and as a consequence the informal market is too small to accommodate the hundreds of milk farmers in the city. Natives reported that milk was regarded as a food for “bush people”, in reference to rural Mbororo, who are hardly integrated into the communities of native agro-pastoralists and urban dwellers. Fresh milk is considered “smelly”, “dirty” and a “poor people’s food”. Despite its cheap price, surplus milk regularly spoils, gets thrown away or is fed to pigs and dogs. Some milk producers have resorted to transforming their surplus into yogurt sold in washed, re-used plastic bottles, but the demand remains low, unstable and seasonal. However, in contrast to fresh milk, powdered milk is considered fancy, clean, and for “civilised” people. Unfortunately, this powder of varying quality is mainly imported from Europe, Asia and the Middle East.

The informal market is defined as activities that are unrecognised, unrecorded, unprotected and unregulated by public authorities.
International Labor Office, 1972


The demand for fresh milk is limited to bigger urban centres like Douala and Yaoundé, where the country’s wealthy middle and upper class has developed a taste for particular dairy products such as cheese and flavoured yogurts.