Lactalis outpaces Nestlé as world’s largest dairy company

GLOBAL – French multinational dairy products corporation Lactalis has outpaced long-time industry giant Nestlé as the world’s biggest dairy player, according to new Rabobank analysis.  

Lactalis’ growth has been attributed to the company’s recent attention to organic growth, as well as its dedicated global M&A strategy. 

These two factors propelled the French dairy company from ninth place in 2000 to a dominating lead position in 2021. 

Lactalis owns such brands as Président, Galbani, Parmalat, Karoun, Rondele, Black Diamond, Stonyfield Organic and Siggi’s.  

Organic and Siggi’s were American yogurt companies acquired late 2017 and early 2018, respectively. 

“We think that it’s a combination of factors [contributing to Lactalis’ acceleration], organic growth being the first,”notes Richard Scheper, analyst dairy RaboResearch Food & Agribusiness 

“However, the aspect that differentiates Lactalis from other dairy companies is their dedicated global M&A strategy.” 

Lactalis has been involved in several international acquisitions, its latest and most notable one being the US$3.2 billion acquisition of Kraft Heinz’s natural, grated, cultured and specialty cheese businesses. 

Lactalis Canada also recently completed the acquisition of all shares of Agropur Cooperative’s Canadian yoghurt business, Ultima Foods, significantly expanding the company’s footprint in the country. 

In the US, the company extended its presence in 2019 buy acquiring Ehrmann Commonwealth Dairy, the US yoghurt business of German dairy firm Ehrmann. 

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 “With this global focus they can also focus on regions and markets where there are opportunities for growth in dairy sales and consumption, such as the changing demographics,” says Scheper. 

“Other dairy companies could be more restricted since they are more focused or bound to their domestic market for milk supply or sales,” he notes. 

 “This could limit their possibilities to increase turnover. For the future, they will likely focus more on a value strategy.” 

If the currently pending deals for the Kraft Heinz natural cheese business and Groupe Bel’s Royal Bel Leerdammer, Bel Italia, Bel Deutschland and Bel Shostka Ukraine will be included in next year’s ranking, Scheper notes that Lactalis will most likely extend its lead. 

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