The 2019 Mid-Year Global Dairy Business Review

Mark O'Keefe Vice President of Editorial Services, U.S. Dairy Export Council

See the significant mergers, acquisitions, joint ventures, new facilities, executive hires and marketing initiatives for the first six months of 2019.

The U.S. Dairy Export Council tracks global dairy business developments every day from news media and other sources around the world. We curate and summarize the most important items in our weekly, members-only newsletter, Global Dairy eBrief.

In January and July, we bundle the newsy nuggets we have been collecting and put them into a single roundup article like the one below. These reports typically attract high readership, proving their popularity and usefulness.

Below is the 2019 Mid-Year Global Dairy Business Review. It's your one-stop, one-of-a-kind archive of the most important global dairy business developments in the first half of 2019.

 

 

We begin with news from our January 4 newsletter and end with our June 28 edition. We put company names in bold for easy scanning because this blog post is long—about 9,800 words.

Look for the full-year 2019 Global Dairy Business Review in January.  

January-2

Nestlé is planning a push into the plant-based food market, starting with a vegan “burger” under the label Garden Gourmet. The company is currently experimenting with plant-based beverages—one made from walnuts and blueberries, another featuring spirulina algae. Nestlé hopes to grow plant-based product sales to more than $1 billion within the next decade. (Bloomberg, 12/28/18)

Fire damaged one of the buildings at Hilmar Cheese Co.’s Hilmar, California, manufacturing site just before the new year. Fire officials estimated the fire caused about $2 million in losses, although Hilmar has not confirmed the figure . . . China’s Yili Group rolled out a new logo as part of a brand upgrade aimed at strengthening its presence in the international marketplace. For more on the logo and to see what it looks like, click here(Fresno Bee, 12/29/18; Reuters, 12/17/18)

Major manufacturers continue to launch and/or expand distribution for plant-based products meant to replace dairy. Here are some of the latest developments: (1) Both Chobani and Danone introduced coconut-based “yogurt” lines in the U.S. this month. The Chobani offering comes in nine flavors; Danone will market its line under the Oikos Danone said it expects plant-based “yogurts” to eventually comprise 10 percent of yogurt sales. (2) Danone is also set to launch its Silk vegan oat “milk” under the brand name Oat Yeah this month across the U.S., while Califia Farms will roll out Oat Barista Blend in February followed by an unsweetened oat beverage variety in April. (3) Unilever is expanding its Magnum vegan “ice cream” bars to Australia after debuting it in select European countries. The product—in classic and almond flavors—is made from pea protein and coated in vegan chocolate. (4) Pea protein supplier Roquette expects to open a $300-million pea protein plant—reportedly the world’s largest—in Manitoba, Canada, later this year, and is exploring pea protein “milk” opportunities. (Company reports; Fortune, 1/9/19; Live Kindly, 1/8/19; Plant Based News, 1/7/19; FoodNavigator.com, 1/4/19)

Chinese dairy giant Mengniu Dairy paid $44 million for a 51 percent share of Inner Mongolia Shengmu High-tech Dairy, a subsidiary of China Shengmu Organic Milk. As part of the agreement, China Shengmu will transfer all its downstream dairy business and related assets (including subsidiary Huhehaote Dairy) to Shengmu High-tech Dairy. The deal shores up Mengniu’s raw milk supply and provides China Shengmu with a much-needed influx of cash as well as the support of Mengniu’s production and distribution network to expand organic dairy product sales. (Company reports; just-food.com, 1/2/19; Caixin, 12/23/18)

Arla Foods sold its cheese factory in Bad Wörishofen, Germany, and all of its shares in French cheese packager Martin Sengelé Produits Laitiers in Muhlbach-sur-Munster, France, to Belgian cheesemaker Vache Bleue. The German plant mainly produces emmentaler that is packaged at the Martin Sengelé facility . . .Fonterra Co-operative Group sold its livestock division to Kiwi agricultural conglomerate Carrfields as part of its strategic review of assets . . . German dairy processor Hochland bought a 25-percent stake in Greek feta maker Greek Family Farm . . . Swiss-owned Wisconsin cheesemaker Emmi Roth purchased Great Lakes Cheese’s Seymour, Wis., blue cheese plant. The facility makes more than 3,100 metric tons of cheese annually. Emmi Roth plans to use it to develop new blue cheese formats and varieties . . . In a bid to boost profitability, Saudi Arabian dairy company Almarai sold its 33 percent stake in United Farmers Holding Co., a joint venture to produce grain and fodder through farm investment outside Saudi Arabia. Joint venture partner Saudi Agricultural and Livestock Investment Co. bought out its stake. (Company reports; Stuff.co.nz, 1/9/19; TopAgrar, 1/7/19; Arabian Business, 1/2/19)

Finnish dairy co-op Valio secured a permit from Chinese authorities to export powdered infant formula from its Lapinlahti plant and ready-to-drink liquid infant formula from its Turenki plant. The company says it is currently engaging with potential customers with an eye on building the Valio name in China. (Company news)

Vietnamese children’s nutrition specialist NutiFood and Japanese beverage and food maker Asahi formed a new joint venture—Asahi-NutiFood—to target the Vietnamese infant nutrition market. NutiFood will work with Asahi to develop products specifically suited for Vietnamese tastes and nutritional needs. Asahi will manufacture the products in Japan and export to Vietnam. (Saigon Times, 1/10/19)

Arla Foods combined its product management and R&D functions into a single new “Product and Innovation” group. The company says the new organization will enable closer collaboration between its commercial zones, market and supply chains, accelerating product development and creating products better aligned with consumer needs. The co-op named Arla veteran Lars Dalsgaard to the new position of senior VP, product and innovation, to head up the group. (Company reports)

Singapore-based business group Jardine Cycle & Carriage is increasing its stake in Vietnam’s Vinamilk to nearly 12 percent. (USDEC Southeast Asia office)

Louis Dreyfus Co. said it will sell or wind down its small dairy business by the middle of the year . . . BK Brasil is opening a new Burger King location every 3-4 days in Brazil, a pace that will push the fast-food chain past McDonald’s to become the country’s largest chain. Burger King currently has about 740 Brazilian outlets vs. about 940 for McDonald’s. BK Brasil also plans to open 300 Popeyes stores in Brazil over the next decade . . . CEC Entertainment signed development agreements with franchisees for 25 new Chuck E. Cheese restaurants in Bahrain, Egypt, El Salvador, Kuwait and Mexico . . . Shakey’s Pizza Ventures Asia plans to spread out from the Manila metro area, opening 20 new stores in 2019. That would push the total number of Philippine outlets to 248. (USDEC Southeast Asia office; Company reports; Reuters, 1/16/19; Bloomberg, 1/9/19)

Glanbia Ireland and Dutch cheese and dairy manufacturer Royal A-ware are teaming up to build a €140-million (about US$159-million) greenfield cheese manufacturing plant in Belview, Ireland. The plant, which will be built near Glanbia’s infant nutrition plant, will handle nearly 500,000 metric tons of raw milk per year, producing cheese for the EU and global markets. After spending €343 million since 2014 to facilitate a 42-percent increase in milk production from its farmers, Glanbia said it needed to diversify its product mix and create “a new route to market” for that milk. (RTE, 1/22/19; Agriland, 1/22/19; Checkout, 1/22/19)

France’s Lactalis bought Egyptian cheese and dairy company Greenland Group for Food Industries and the milk products business of India’s Prabhat Dairy. Lactalis acquired Prabhat’s Sunfresh Agro Industries via its wholly owned Indian subsidiary Tirumala Milk Products and purchased Greenland through its Middle Eastern joint-venture operation Lactalis-Halawa. Greenland operates five plants in Egypt, including a whey production facility. Prabhat makes milk, milk powder, butter and ghee at two plants, and exited dairy production to focus on its cattle feed business. (Almal News, 1/23/19; DairyReporter.com, 1/23/19; VC Circle, 1/22/19)

Franchise business in Thailand is thriving, particularly in the food and beverage sector. Minor DQ Ltd., the franchisee for Dairy Queen in Thailand, plans to double the number of Thai units to 1,000 by 2023, with 40 coming on line this year. Thailand is already the third largest Dairy Queen market outside of the United States. Thoresen Thai Agencies, a shipping company that broke into the franchise market last year with Pizza Hut in Thailand, opened the first Thai Taco Bell this week in Bangkok. The outlet features a menu adapted specifically for Thai tastes. (USDEC Southeast Asia office; Reuters, 1/22/19)

 

 

New Zealand dairy cooperative Westland Milk is reportedly considering proposals from more than 25 parties, including Canada’s Saputo, interested in buying all or part of the business. The co-op announced a capital structure review last month. (Stuff.co.nz, 1/23/19)

Nestlé opened a new R&D center in Limerick, Ireland, to support innovation in milk-based maternal and infant nutrition products for the global market. The $30-million facility is adjacent to Nestlé’s Wyeth Nutrition plant . . . Mexico’s Grupo Lala completed a $14-million upgrade to the San Ramon, Costa Rica, dairy facility it purchased from Florida Bebidas in 2016. The facility will initially process fluid milk for Walmart stores in the region, eventually expanding to other products including butter . . . Domino’s Pizza said it expects to add 9,700 new stores by 2025, more than two-thirds them in international markets. It projects sales will more than double to $25 billion over the same period . . . FrieslandCampinaopened a 333,000-sq.-ft. distribution center in Meppel, Netherlands, for storage and transfer of dairy products meant for export markets. The facility holds 43,000 pallets and replaces four existing FrieslandCampina distribution centers . . . Laticínios Porto Alegre is spending $8 million to build a UHT milk processing facility in Rio Novo do Sul, Brazil . . . Malaysia’s Dutch Lady Milk Industries is planning a push into the hotel, restaurant and catering market. (USDEC Mexico office; USDEC Southeast Asia office; Company reports; Milkpoint, 1/18/19; Nation’s Restaurant News, 1/17/19)

February

Vietnamese dairy leader Vinamilk expects to open a dairy manufacturing plant in Myanmar this year as part of an aggressive global expansion initiative. The Myanmar facility will be its second in Southeast Asia after the company’s Cambodian facility, which debuted in 2016. Vinamilk is also discussing a joint venture in Indonesia and expects to enter the Chinese market this year. The company says it has set aside $750 million for mergers and acquisitions, plant constructions and farm investments. (Nikkei Asian Review, 1/25/19)

French dairy cooperative Sodiaal plans to invest €80 million (about US$91 million) to expand R&D activities centered around its new research hub in Rennes, France. About half the money is coming in the form of a loan from the European Investment Bank. The cooperative expects to focus on infant nutrition, functionalization of dairy components, processing technologies and new packaging for products targeting European as well as global markets. (European Investment Bank, 1/24/19)

Thailand’s CP Foods opened a new $43-million R&D center in Wang Noi that it expects will drive a 10-12 percent sales gain in 2019. The company plans to launch a line of “smart” products including functional drinks in the first quarter and develop other lines aimed at particular nutritional and dietary needs, such as foods and beverages for medical uses, specific groups including seniors or specific conditions like insomnia. Other areas of study will include sustainable packaging that minimizes environmental impact and biotechnology. (USDEC Southeast Asia office)

Singapore-based commodities giant Olam International plans to invest $3.5 billion over the next 5 years to strengthen high-growth-potential ag sectors, including dairy. Dairy investments will include farm expansions in Russia and spending on ingredient processing facilities in unspecified locations . . . Dubai’s Horeca Trade, a subsidiary of Bidfood Group, signed a deal to become the exclusive distributor of Fonterra’s Anchor Food Professionals foodservice products in the UAE . . . Former Fonterra Chairman John Wilson passed away at age 54. Wilson became a Fonterra director in 2003 and served as chairman from 2012 until July 2017 . . . Tetra Pak appointed company veteran Adolfo Orive as president and CEO to replace Dennis Jönsson, who is stepping down after 14 years at the helm. (USDEC Southeast Asia office; Company reports; Stuff.co.nz, 1/28/19)

Mazoon Dairy Co., a new, vertically integrated dairy company in Oman, received its first shipment of 1,600 dairy cows and expects to inaugurate its manufacturing plant in Al Sunayna in the second quarter of this year. The $260-million project was conceived as a means to reduce Oman’s dependency on dairy imports. Imports now account for about 70 percent of consumption. The facility will make milk, cream, yogurt, laban, cheese and ice cream. The company expects its farms will produce 200,000 tons of milk per year to start, growing to more than 900,000 tons per year. (Times of Oman, 2/3/19; Gulf Business, 2/4/19)

Milco, a consortium led by Israel’s Central Bottling Co. (CBC), offered $359 million for a 60-percent stake in South African dairy and consumer foods maker Clover Industries. CBC also owns Israel’s Tara Dairy . . . Coca-Cola purchased the outstanding 60 percent of Nigerian dairy and juice processor Chi Ltd. It bought a 40 percent stake in Chi in 2016 . . . Myen Pte Ltd, a Singaporean subsidiary of Danone, is forming a joint venture with Thai functional drink marketer Sappe to market healthy beverages in Thailand . . . Organic Meadow, a subsidiary of Canada’s Agrifoods International Cooperative, acquired the Rolling Meadow grass-fed dairy business from brand developer GreenSpace. Organic Meadow had been the primary contract packer for Rolling Meadow. (USDEC Southeast Asia office; Company reports; BusinessDay, 2/4/19; Reuters, 2/4/19; IEG Vu, 2/4/19)

Britain’s Dairy Crest is spending £75 million (about US$97 million) to upgrade and expand its Davidstow facility, increasing cheese production from 54,000 metric tons per year to 77,000 metric tons. Increased capacity is earmarked for domestic and overseas markets . . . Britain’s Crediton Dairy is investing £12 million (about US$16 million) to expand flavored and functional milk capacity at its Devon, UK, dairy plant. Product will be sold in domestic and overseas markets . . . British cheesemaker Wyke Farms is doubling capacity at its Bruton, UK, manufacturing plant to bolster capacity for global markets. The company’s five-year growth plan is focused on increasing export sales . . . Great Lakes Cheese is building a new 300,000-sq.-ft. manufacturing and warehousing facility and a new headquarters in Geauga County, Ohio . . . Blue Diamond Growers broke ground on a 52,000-sq.-ft. expansion at its Turlock, Calif., almond drink facility. The addition will boost production of the almond base for its Almond Breeze beverage to meet rising demand. (FoodManufacture.co.uk, 2/5/19; Cheese Reporter, 2/1/19; FoodBev.com, 1/30/19; Modesto Bee, 1/29/19; Food & Drink International, 1/28/19)

Wattle Health Australia paid A$46 million (about US$33 million) to increase its stake in Australian infant and nutritional formula contract manufacturer Blend and Pack from 5 percent to 51 percent. The deal includes an option to acquire an additional 29 percent. Wattle has plans to expand overseas sales and distribution of organic milk powder products, with a focus on China. Blend and Pack is licensed to produce infant formula for China. Wattle said last month that it was awaiting accreditation from China’s State Administration of Market Regulation to start exporting organic formula to China. In late 2018, Wattle formed a joint venture with Organic Dairy Farmers of Australia to build a dedicated organic milk spray dryer in Geelong, Victoria. The partners expect to have the plant, Corio Bay Dairy Group, operational by the third quarter of this year. (Company reports; SmallCaps, 2/11/19)

DMK Group opened a €145-million (about US$164 million) infant formula plant in Strückhausen, Germany. The plant will produce formula for EU and international markets . . . Restaurant Brands International added 1,000 Burger King, Tim Hortons and Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen outlets globally in 2018 and the company plans to continue expanding its international presence. Speaking specifically about Burger King, the company said it is “still severely underpenetrated and has tons of white space to grow in most markets around the world” . . . Darigold named Grant Kadavy as chief operating officer effective immediately. Kadavy, who joined Darigold as chief commercial officer in 2016, is now responsible for strategic development, innovation, supply chain and day-to-day commercial operations and will take on a higher profile representing the co-op externally in the industry . . . China’s Yili Group signed a memorandum of understanding with German human milk oligosaccharides (HMO) firm Jennewein Biotechnologie to develop infant formula and dairy products specifically tailored to the Chinese market featuring HMO. (Company reports; Wall Street Journal, 2/11/19)

Australia’s Bega Cheese plans to build a new lactoferrin production facility at its Koroit, Victoria, manufacturing site. The A$34 million (about US$24 million) plant will produce about 35 tons of lactoferrin extract annually, complementing Bega’s existing lactoferrin plant at Tatura, Victoria. Production is earmarked for pharmaceutical and nutritional powder manufacturers. A new long-term lactoferrin supply contract was one of the drivers behind the project. (Finance News Network, 2/15/19; North Queensland Register, 2/14/19)

Brazilian conglomerates Sooro Group and Renner Herrmann agreed to merge their dairy ingredient businesses (Sooro Concentrado and Relat-Latícínios Renner) into a new company called Sooro Renner Participações. The company will focus on WPC, WPI, lactose, permeate, whey powder and derivatives. Sooro Renner will operate plants in Marechal Cândido Rondon, Paraná (also company headquarters), and Estação, Rio Grande do Sul. A third facility in southern Brazil is in the planning stages. (USDEC South America office; Company reports; Milkpoint, 2/13/19)

Glanbia plc paid US$89 million for Connecticut-based non-dairy ingredient business Watson Inc. Glanbia called it a “complementary addition to our Nutritional Solutions business [that] will help broaden our capabilities in the ingredients sector” . . . Hormel Foods sold its CytoSport business, including Muscle Milk products, to PepsiCo. PepsiCo is the long-standing distributor of Muscle Milk . . . Israel’s Central Bottling Co. bought its joint venture partner’s stake in Romania’s Muller Dairy Ro, the importer/distributor of the German Müller brand in Romania. (Company news; Minneapolis Star Tribune, 2/19/19; Romania Insider, 2/14/19)

Brazil’s Latícínios Tirol will start construction in June on a US$19 million UHT milk plant in Ipiranga in the Campos Gerais region. The facility, which will handle about 1,250 metric tons of milk per day, is due to open in January 2021 . . . Encouraged by strong demand for its UHT milk and ghee in Singapore and Hong Kong, India’s Tamil Nadu Cooperative Milk Producers’ Federation (also known as Aavin) began exporting UHT milk to Qatar this month and plans to expand to additional Middle Eastern and Asia markets later this year . . . Smucker’s Foods of Canada is spending US$9 million to add heavy cream capacity and increase packaging flexibility at its Sherbrooke, Quebec, dairy plant. (USDEC South America office; USDEC Southeast Asia office; Company news; a Rede, 2/8/19, 1/14/19)

 

March-3

Fonterra Co-operative Group took a minority stake in Boston-based bioengineered-food start-up Motif Ingredients. Motif, spun-off this week from Gingko Bioworks, is developing alternatives to animal proteins using biotechnology and fermentation to solve some of “the biggest challenges” facing the food industry: “sustainability and accessible nutrition.” Fonterra said it is making the investment to “futureproof” the co-op and because it believes plant, insect, algae and fermentation-produced nutrition will exist alongside animal proteins in the years ahead. Additional Motif investors include Louis Dreyfus Cos., Breakthrough Energy Ventures and Gingko. (Company reports; Xconomy, 2/26/19)

Ireland’s Carbery Group is spending €78 million (about US$89 million) to expand and diversify its Ballineen, Co. Cork, manufacturing site. The facility solely makes cheddar, but the project will add capacity for mozzarella and other cheeses to meet rising demand from emerging markets, particularly Asia and the Middle East. The expanded facility, when complete in early 2020, will process up to 4,100 metric tons of milk per day. (The Southern Star, 2/22/19)

Canadian dairy giant Saputo will pay about £975 million (about US$1.3 billion) to purchase British dairy processor Dairy Crest. Dairy Crest’s main manufacturing plant is the cheese and ingredient facility at Davidstow, where it recently announced a major expansion project. It also operates packaging, distribution and R&D sites. Saputo said the acquisition will enable the company “to expand its international presence and enter the UK market [with] a well-established and successful industry player with a solid asset base.” (Company news)

Australia’s Bega Cheese closed its Coburg, Victoria, cheese plant, citing the suburban Melbourne location as unsuitable for expansion . . . Bega also signed a partnership agreement with organic baby food and goat-milk formula marketer Bubs Australia. Under the terms of the deal, Bega unit Tatura Milk will turn fresh goat milk into infant formula nutritional base for Bubs . . . Mexico’s Grupo Lalaannounced a licensing agreement to distribute and market almond beverages in Mexico from Blue Diamond Growers . . . Gem State Dairy Products is building a 200,000-sq.-ft. aseptic milk processing plant in Twin Falls, Idaho. It expects to break ground this summer and complete the facility by summer 2020. (USDEC Mexico office; AAP, 2/27/19; Finance News Network, 2/27/19; KLIX 2/25/19)

Regulatory authorities gave the greenlight to the merger of Ireland’s Lakeland Dairies and Northern Ireland’s LacPatrick Dairies, removing the last significant hurdle to completing the deal . . . Private investment firm Borgman Capitalacquired Wisconsin-based processed cheesemaker Gilman Cheese Corp.(BizTimes, 3/4/19)

New Zealand’s Fonterra Co-operative Group named interim CEO Miles Hurrell as its permanent chief executive effective immediately . . . Mike Durkin, president and CEO of Leprino Foods, and Lino Saputo Jr., chairman and CEO of Saputo Inc., joined the board of directors of Global Dairy Platform. (Company reports)

General Mills sold its Yoplait business in China to Chinese private equity investment fund Tiantu Capital. The deal includes a production facility in Kunshan, near Shanghai, and a license to the Yoplait name in China . . . Australian infant food manufacturer Bubs Organic is forming a joint venture with China’s Beingmate Baby & Child Food to distribute Bubs brand goat’s-milk-based infant formula and baby food products in China . . . Singapore-based palm oil trader Wilmar International paid US$300 million for the 50 percent of Australian dairy and food group Goodman Fielder that it did not already own . . . Colombia dairy processor Alpina Productos Alimentos purchased a 19 percent stake in importer/distributor Atlantic Food Service . . . Saudi Arabian dairy processor Almarai paid $29 million for value-added halal meat and poultry processor Premier Foods(USDEC China office; USDEC Southeast Asia office; USDEC South America office; USDEC Middle East office; New Zealand Herald, 3/12/19; FoodBev.com, 3/7/19)

Yum China opened an integrated R&D facility in Shanghai to speed development of new products targeting local taste preferences . . . Yum China is also partnering with Sinopec and China National Petroleum Corp. (CNPC) to open KFC locations at the two companies’ gas stations. The deals call for more than 100 units over the next three years. Sinopec and CNPC operate more than 50,000 total gas stations across China . . . New Zealand’s Fonterra Co-operative Grouppromoted Judith Swales to chief operating officer, Global Consumer & Foodservice. (USDEC China office; Company reports)

China’s Yili Group strengthened its Kiwi footprint with the purchase of New Zealand’s second largest dairy co-op Westland Co-operative Dairy. This is Yili’s second dairy purchase in New Zealand: It bought Oceania Dairy in 2013 and subsequently invested NZ$650 million in milk powder, infant formula and UHT milk production there. The Chinese dairy giant (through subsidiary Hongkong Jingang Trade Holding) is paying NZ$3.41 a share (equal to NZ$588 million or US$403 million) to acquire Westland. The proposed deal follows a strategic review by Westland’s board brought on by a series of disappointing farmer payouts. The board said it engaged with 25 parties before deciding on the Yili offer, which it unanimously approved. As part of the deal, Yili has agreed to pay existing Westland suppliers a competitive milk price at least equal to Fonterra Co-operative Group’s for the next 10 seasons starting with the year beginning in August 2019. Yili also will acquire NZ$342.5 million in Westland debt and other liabilities. Westland has been looking to increase the value of its farmers milk in recent years, investing NZ$134 million on infant formula capacity in 2016/17. Westland farmers will vote on the deal in early July. Initial reaction has been mixed, according to media reports this week. New Zealand regulators also must approve the deal. (Company reports; New Zealand Herald, 3/20/19)

French dairy co-op Sodiaal took over the processing portion of Synutra’s Carhaix, France, infant formula plant. China-based Synutra will continue to oversee packaging and has contracted for half the volume at Carhaix for distribution in China. The Carhaix facility can produce 65,000-80,000 tons of formula per year, depending on type. The two companies began discussing the changeover last summer. (Reuters, 3/12/19)

Fonterra sold its interest in its Venezuelan joint venture Corporacion Inlaca to trading company Mirona Food. As part of its plan to sell NZ$800 million in assets, the co-op also put its 50-percent stake in its DFE Pharma joint venture with FrieslandCampina on the market. DFE Pharma specializes in pharmaceutical excipients . . . Upstate Niagara Milk Cooperative paid an estimated $20 million-$25 million for the former Alpina Foods yogurt plant in Batavia, N.Y. Niagara said it had not yet settled on how it would use the plant, which had closed in January. (Company reports; The Daily News, 3/3/19; The Batavian, 3/2/19)

Nestlé opened a $12-million UHT beverage processing line for value-added milk-based products including Nesquik drinks, Nido and NAN infant and children’s formulas. The line is part of a four-year, $127-million investment in Argentina’s dairy market by the Swiss dairy and food giant . . . Wisconsin’s Cedar Valley Cheese expects to complete a $15-million expansion by the end of the month, doubling capacity and adding storage, a QC lab and other space. In addition to domestic sales, the company ships to Mexico and Canada . . . Minor Food Groupplans to double the number of its restaurants in Thailand and internationally to more than 4,400 over the next four years. The company operates in 27 markets around the world, although 1,500 of its current 2,270 units are in Thailand, where it owns the Dairy Queen, Burger King, The Pizza Company, Swensen’s, The Coffee Club and other brands . . . Dine Brands, owner of the IHOP and Applebee’s names, plans to open its first IHOP store in Pakistan in Karachi by the end of the year, followed by 18 more units over the subsequent nine years. It has also recently signed deals to expand into Ecuador and Peru. (USDEC South America office; USDEC Southeast Asia office; Milkpoint, 3/18/19; Bloomberg, 3/18/19; Ozaukee Press, 3/13/19)

Danone officially opened its new €240-million Nutricia infant formula plant in Cuijk, Netherlands. Danone is billing the plant as a “sustainable, zero-waste facility powered with 100 percent renewable energy.” The plant doubles the capacity of the older Cuijk facility it is replacing while using 60 percent less water and 25 percent less energy and emitting half the CO2. It produces specialized infant formula for babies with specific health needs. (Company reports)

Nestlé opened a new R&D center in Beijing and a system technology hub in Shenzhen. The R&D center, with 40 specialists working across multiple product sectors, aims to accelerate trend-based innovation in what the company calls “one of the fastest-changing food and beverage markets in the world.” It features a consumer insights area, a rapid-prototyping lab and other product development resources and will work closely with local universities and innovation partners. The system technology hub’s focus is on beverage systems. (Company reports)

Vietnam’s Vinamilk offered to buy a 47 percent stake in GTNFoods for $65 million. GTNFoods is majority shareholder of Moc Chau Milk Co., one of the largest milk producers in north Vietnam, with a herd of more than 23,000 cows . . . Colombian dairy co-operative Unilac is merging with Colombian dairy and food company Colanta . . . Kroger Co. is selling its Turkey Hill Dairy operation in Pennsylvania to investment firm Peak Rock Capital(USDEC South America office; Vietnam Investment Review, 3/14/19)

Irish Farmers Journal reported that Coca-Cola is considering building a dairy processing plant in County Cork. Coca-Cola called the report “speculative” and said that recent meetings with officials were part of its normal course of doing business
. . . Dairy Farmers of America (DFA) joined GDT Marketplace, Global Dairy Trade’s 24/7 online dairy trading platform. DFA products on GDT Marketplace will include milk powder, MPC, AMF and cheese. (The Irish Times, 3/28/19; GDT)

April-2

Australian goat’s milk infant formula marketer Bubs Organic paid A$25 million (plus A$10 million in Bubs stock) for Melbourne-based Deloraine Dairy. Deloraine owns one of 15 Australian infant formula canning facilities licensed by Chinese regulators to export to China. The plant’s capacity is 10 million tins per year, but Bubs said it could double output with incremental capital investment. Bubs has been moving aggressively this year to secure Chinese expansion, signing a contract manufacturing deal for infant formula base with Bega Cheese in February and securing a joint-venture distribution deal with China’s Beingmate Baby & Child Food last month. In tandem with the Deloraine deal, Bubs also secured A$15 million in funding from China-focused private equity firm C2 Capital Partners. (Business News Australia, 4/1/19)

Sill Group is spending €85 million (about US$95 million) for a new milk drying tower in Landivisiau, France, to produce infant formula. The investment is part of a five-year, €180-million company-wide investment plan. When completed, Sill expects to produce 18,000 tons of infant formula annually at Landivisiau exclusively for export to China, the Middle East and Africa. It expects to begin production at the beginning of 2021. (L’Usine Nouvelle, 3/26/19; web-agri, 3/25/19)

Ireland’s Lakeland Dairies and Northern Ireland’s LacPatrick Dairies officially merged. Michael Hanley, current CEO of Lakeland Dairies, will remain as head of the combined organization Lakeland Dairies Co-operative Society . . . Switzerland’s Emmi acquired a two-thirds stake in Austrian goat and sheep’s milk processor Leeb Biomilch GmbH. Leeb Biomilch also began marketing a dairy alternative line in 2016 called MyLove-MyLife based on almonds, coconut and oats . . . Germany’s DMK Group acquired the baby food brands and sales and distribution channels of fellow German food processors Alete GmbH and German Babyfood GmbH. DMK expects the brands will complement its infant formula line. (Company reports; Agriland, 4/1/19)

McDonald’s plans to open 400 new stores in mainland China this year . . . Milkom, a unit of Russia’s Komos Group, reportedly signed a contract with China’s Li Hua Economic and Co. to ship 40 tons of ice cream and 500 tons of “other” dairy products per month to China. The company did not specify what the other products were . . . Norwegian dairy TINE and food and personal care giant Orkla are reportedly collaborating to add cheddar manufacturing capacity to TINE’s Meieriet Verdal plant in central Norway. Output is earmarked for Orkla pizzas, although TINE says domestic demand for cheddar at retail and in processed foods is rising in Norway. (USDEC China office; Dairy Markets, 3/27/19; The Dairy News, 3/25/19)

China’s Health & Happiness International Holdings purchased the Farmland Dairy infant formula blending and packaging plant in Auburn, New South Wales. The company is looking to expand into goat-milk formula under its Biostimebrand . . . Australian Dairy Nutritionals Group, owner of Camperdown Dairy, purchased A$5 million in used infant formula and cheesemaking equipment and plans to install it at its Camperdown facility in Victoria. (Australian Financial Review, 4/4/19; The Weekly Times, 4/4/19)

Chicago-based Fairlife is building a new $200-million-plus milk processing facility in Goodyear, Ariz., to produce products for domestic and international markets. The company expects to begin operations in the second half of 2020 . . . Nestlé opened a $2-million Latin American business support center in Asunción, Paraguay. The operation will offer internal support (human resources, financing, accounting, etc.) to Nestlé’s operations in 21 countries in the region . . . Australia’s Camperdown Dairy extended its production contract with New Zealand yogurt brand The Collective for an additional two years until 2024. (USDEC South America office; Company reports; AAP, 4/7/19)

Hilmar Cheese Co. is selling its Turlock, Calif., milk powder facility to California Dairies Inc. (CDI). The sale aligns with Hilmar’s new strategic focus announced in March, which looks to “evolve and adapt” the company to the changing business environment. That includes focusing on three core product areas: cheese, whey protein and lactose. Hilmar completed the plant in 2015. The deal is expected to close in May. (Company reports)

Polish dairy processor Polmlek acquired a 30% stake in fellow dairy Lacpol and claims it has lined up enough shares from additional investors to give it a controlling interest. The combined operations of Polmlek and Lacpol would make the company the No. 2 dairy in Poland just ahead of Mlekpol and behind only Mlekovita. Together, Polmlek and Lacpol operate 15 manufacturing plants. (Dairy Markets, 4/15/19; Forbes, 4/9/19)

Italian dairy processor Granarolo increased its stake in Italian cheesemaker Venchiaredo from 33.5% to 57.5%. Venchiaredo specializes in stracchino cheese . . . FrieslandCampina sold Creamy Creation (its cream liqueur operation) to Dutch investment company Wagram Equity Partners . . . Bubs Australia sold its Coach House Dairy flavored milk brand to Australian dairy marketer The Remarkable Milk Co. Remarkable Milk targets Asia Pacific retail markets with organic and conventional dairy and nutritional products . . . South Africa’s Brimstone Investment Corp. is pulling out of the consortium to buy South Africa’s Clover Industries amid opposition from an anti-Israel group. The consortium, Milco SA, is headed by Israeli beverage firm Central Bottling Co.Brimstone has secured two possible investors to take its place. (Company reports; just-food.com, 4/17/19; Reuters, 4/12/19; FoodBev.com, 4/12/19)

Glanbia Ingredients Ireland expects the latest expansion at its Belview, Co. Kilkenny, plant will be fully operational just ahead of peak EU milk flows in May. The €160-million project includes new milk intakes, pasteurizers, evaporation facilities, drying facilities and bagging equipment. It will increase raw milk handling capacity at Belview by 15,500 tons per week . . . Brazilian dairy processor Lacticínios Tirol more than doubled its investment in a new UHT milk processing facility in Ipiranga, Paraná, to US$39 million. When completed in 2021, it will handle 620,000 tons of raw milk per day. (USDEC South American office; Agriland, 4/15/19)

Fonterra Co-operative Group and Coca-Cola formed an “exploratory” alliance to launch ready-to-drink beverages in Southeast Asia starting in Vietnam. The first item from Asean Fonterra & Coca-Cola Strategic Alliance is a milk/fruit juice drink under Coca-Cola’s Nutriboost label. The new Nutriboost line, which debuted last week in Vietnam, is made from a Fonterra recipe and features Fonterra milk powder but is contract manufactured by a third party. The Alliance next plans to target Indonesia and Thailand. A range of products is in the works, including children’s beverages, adult breakfast drinks and a skincare line. Some will reportedly feature Fonterra’s Anchor brand name. Clare Morgan, the Alliance’s marketing director, said the project is exploratory at the moment but could develop into a full-fledged joint venture over time. “Coke certainly wants to become more dairy based,” she said. (USDEC Southeast Asia office; New Zealand Herald, 4/20/19, 4/18/19)

Mehsana Dairy, one of the founding members of Indian dairy behemoth Gujarat Cooperative Milk Marketing Federation (also known as Amul), plans to cut ties with the co-op and go out on its own. Mehsana reportedly accounts for about 10 percent of GCMMF’s $4.7 billion in annual revenues. The company will start its own label Dudhsagar, since it will lose access to the flagship Amul brand. Media reports suggested the divorce was triggered by infighting between Mehsana and Amul leadership, exacerbated by the varying political links between GCMMF’s 17 member co-ops. (Business Today, 4/23/19)

Iowa-based Wells Enterprises acquired Fieldbrook Foods, which operates ice cream plants in New York and New Jersey. The move expands Wells’ capacity and extends its geographic coverage . . . Cheese wholesaler Zijerveld, a unit of FrieslandCampina, acquired Dutch cut-and-wrap operation W. Bakker Kaashandel(Company reports; Foodnews, 4/17/19)

Malaysia’s QSR Brands Holdings plans to open 60 Pizza Hut and 67 KFC outlets nationwide over the next three years. The company is also exploring collaborating with Pizza Hut Japan and KFC Japan to develop Halal-certified stores in Japan and train personnel to handle the influx of Muslim tourists for next year’s Tokyo Olympics . . . Luckin Coffee Inc., a Chinese challenger to Starbucks, is looking to raise up to $800 million through an IPO next month. Luckin operates 2,370 stores in China with plans to open another 2,500 this year, a feat that would displace Starbucks as China’s largest coffee chain. (USDEC Southeast Asia office; Reuters, 4/22/19)

May-2

Judging by two recent new product rollouts, Nestlé has its eyes set on nutritional appeal when it comes to dairy R&D in Southeast Asia. Nestlé Thailand unveiled Milo UHT No Sucrose, a product deliberately developed to reflect the government public health policy of encouraging Thai people to consume an appropriate amount of sugar in their diets. The product carries the Thai Healthier Choice logo, a state-backed labeling scheme started in 2016 that aims to improve national health. Meanwhile, Nestlé Indonesia rolled out Nestlé Acticor, a milk-based drink containing beta glucan (a sugar with immune enhancing qualities) and inulin (sometimes used to lower cholesterol). Heart disease is the No. 1 cause of death in Indonesia, and the Acticor marketing campaign is built around heart health. The product also aligns with the Indonesian government initiative “Movement for Healthy Living Society,” which encourages healthier dietary patterns to improve quality of life. (USDEC Southeast Asia office; Company reports; Indopos, 4/29/19)

Coca-Cola Mexico opened a new $105-million fluid milk and juice plant in Lagos de Moreno, Jalisco. The facility, part of Coca-Cola’s Jugos del Valle-Santa Clara non-carbonated beverage division, can produce 120 million liters per year. It is the company’s second milk facility in Mexico; the first is in Pachuca, Hidalgo. The Lagos de Moreno plant will initially produce milk under the Santa Clara label for the domestic market, but Coca-Cola is eyeing export opportunities in Latin America and the United States as well. (USDEC Mexico office; Company reports; Forbes, 4/29/19)

Canada’s Saputo entered into an agreement to purchase the specialty cheese business of Australia’s Lion-Dairy & Drinks for A$280 million (about US$208 million). The deal includes two manufacturing plants located in Burnie and King Island, Tasmania, two dairy farms and a number of brands, including Mersey ValleySouth Cape and King Island Dairy. Saputo previously purchased Lion’s CoonCracker Barrel and Mil Lel cheese lines in 2015. Saputo says the deal will further diversify its product offerings, expanding and complementing its current activities in Australia. Lion is still looking to divest its fluid and fresh dairy operations in Australia. (Company reports; North Queensland Register, 4/19/19)

Australia’s Freedom Foods completed a key commissioning step for a new lactoferrin production line at its Shepparton, Victoria, manufacturing site. It expects to produce 16 tons of lactoferrin annually. The plant also began producing micellar casein in February and native whey protein isolate in March . . . Russia’s Galactika Group expanded its partnership with Finland’s Valio, opening a new production line for yogurt and dairy desserts at its facility in Gatchina, Leningrad Oblast . . . Domino’s Pizza expects to add nearly 10,000 additional locations in 85 markets worldwide by 2025 . . . Ornua’s Kerrygold brand is the first Irish food brand to top €1 billion in retail sales, according to Irish Ag Minister Michael Creed . . . Northern Ireland’s Dale Farm is not renewing the contract for the Fivemiletown Creamery cheese plant it was leasing from Fivemiletown & Brookeborough Co-operative. The company will transfer production to its facility near Culleybackey. (Newstalk, 4/30/19; Agriland, 4/25/19; The Dairy News, 4/25/19; Yahoo Finance, 4/24/19; Motley Fool, 4/3/19)

Infant formula marketer Bubs Australia signed a deal with Fonterra Australiawhereby Fonterra will supply Bubs with organic milk powder for a new line of infant formula under the Bubs Organic label. Bubs will distribute the formula in Australia starting June 1, with distribution in China to follow via its joint venture with Beingmate Baby & Child Food and through Chinese ecommerce giant Tmall. Bubs is aggressively pursuing the Chinese infant formula market, cutting a series of deals over the past three months to bolster manufacturing and distribution. Fonterra will reportedly source the milk from its New Zealand organic milk pool and manufacture the powder at its Darnum, Victoria, Australia plant. Fonterra recently regained full ownership of the Darnum plant after exiting its Australian joint venture with Beingmate. (New Zealand Herald, 5/7/19; Small Caps, 5/6/19)

Dutch dairy giant FrieslandCampina reorganized its ingredients business, folding its four individual operating companies—DOMO, Kievit, DMZV and Nutrifeed—into a new product-oriented structure to better tap into the growing global nutrition market. The former operating companies are now four strategic segments: Early Life Nutrition; Adult Nutrition (performance, active and medical nutrition); Food & Beverages; and Animal Nutrition. FrieslandCampina Ingredients runs five regional sales offices located in Brazil, China, the Netherlands, Singapore and the United States. (Company news)

Canada’s Saputo announced plans to close its Dresser, Wis., cheese facility at the end of the month. It acquired the plant late last year with its purchase of F&A Dairy Products . . . The government of Canada is investing C$1.5 million (about US$1.1 million) to modernize equipment at the St-Albert Cheese Co-operativefacility in Ontario. The money is part of the government’s Dairy Processing Investment Fund, which was established to help the nation’s dairy sector cope with increased competition due to the EU-Canada Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement. (Company reports; The Sun, 5/3/19)

New Zealand’s Synlait Milk insists that it is “working through” an appeals court ruling that calls into question its rights to build a nutritional powder facility in the North Island town of Pokeno. The trouble is that the NZ$250-million facility is nearly complete. Synlait started constriction last May after the original court ruling removed covenants restricting the land to grazing, lifestyle farming and forestry. The new ruling says those covenants never should have been lifted. The Pokeno plant was supposed to be ready for the start of the 2019/20 production season. It has a reported capacity of 45,000 tons per year. (Company reports; Newsroom, 5/13/19)

New Zealand’s Fonterra sold its Tip Top ice cream brand and manufacturing facility in Auckland to Froneri, the UK-based ice cream joint venture between Nestlé and R&R Ice Cream. Froneri also acquired the license to manufacture Fonterra’s Kapiti ice cream brand . . . Australian dairy and poultry processor TasFoods paid US$8 million for fellow Tasmanian dairy Betta Milk. Betta recently upgraded its manufacturing plant in Burnie, Tasmania . . . Troubled Argentine food company Arcor increased its stake in struggling Argentine dairy processor Mastellone to 43%. (USDEC South America office; Company reports; AAP, 5/13/19)

New Zealand’s Fonterra Co-operative Group lowered the high side of its projected farmgate milk price by 20 cents, dropping its payout range for the year ending May 31 to NZ$6.30-$6.40 kg/MS. It also lowered its earnings per share to 10-15 cents (from 15-25 cents). Both numbers are at the low end of analysts’ expectations, suggesting Fonterra is still struggling to find its footing. The co-op continues to look for ways to improve its financial performance and reduce debt after a lackluster year. It announced it was closing its milk powder plant in Dennington, Victoria, Australia, and embarking on a strategic review of its two Chinese farm hubs and its Dairy Partners America Brazil joint venture with Nestlé. Dennington has reportedly been operating at about 30% capacity, in part due to reduced milk flows in Australia. The strategic reviews relate to the co-op’s efforts to prioritize its New Zealand milk supply and simplify its global portfolio. (Company reports; Stuff.co.nz, 5/22/19)

Darigold added four in-country sales and logistics personnel in Mexico to enhance customer service and deepen integration with its Mexican customers. The company expects the additions will “enable greater insight to provide solutions tailored for customer- and country-specific needs.” Darigold does business in Mexico as Darigold Mexico and NW Dairy Pioneers. (Company reports)

The owner of New Zealand Industrial Park Ltd. sent a cease and desist request to Synlait Milk calling for the company to halt work on its Pokeno, North Island, nutritional powder facility. The park is adjacent to the under-construction facility, and the owner, Qing Ye, is the person behind the challenge to Synlait’s right to build a factory on the land. Despite the cease and desist request, Synlait said it would continue construction and it plans to have the facility ready to receive milk for the 2019-20 season. Synlait said it was discussing the matter with all involved parties but believes the project is consistent with zoning rules. (Stuff.co.nz, 5/22/19; Otago Daily Times, 5/22/19)

California Dairies Inc. completed its acquisition of Hilmar Cheese’s Turlock, Calif., milk powder plant . . . France’s Lactalis said it was looking to acquire a dairy company in northern India to make it a truly national player in the country. Lactalis has built its business in India through acquisition, purchasing Tirumala Milk Products in 2014, Anik Industries in 2016 and Prabhat Dairy earlier this year. (Company reports; The Hindu Business Line, 5/14/19)

The threat from plant-based dairy alternatives continues to spread, with food companies in Asia and South America rolling out products aimed at shifting consumers away from dairy. Thai natural products maker Heritage Group rolled out a pistachio beverage under the Sunkist brand. Chinese mineral water marketer Nongfu Spring launched a plant-based “yogurt” made from non-GMO soy beans. Chilean start-up Not Co. developed plant-based “milk” and “ice cream.” And Sweden’s Oatley opened a sales office in Shanghai and hopes to build a Chinese manufacturing facility for its oat-based beverage. The company has gone as far as developing a new Chinese character for “vegan milk,” but it also markets its line in Asia using the tagline “the new milk.”  Highlighting dairy protein's nutrition and sustainability benefits in the face of stronger competition from alternative proteins is a primary goal of USDEC's ingredient program and plays a significant role in industry outreach. (USDEC staff; USDEC South America office; USDEC Southeast Asia office; South China Morning Post, 5/28/19; FoodNavigator-Asia.com, 5/20/19)

New Zealand’s Happy Valley Milk secured the necessary consents to build an NZ$280-million (about US$183 million) infant formula and nutritional powder plant in Otorohanga on the North Island. Groundbreaking is set for September and the company expects to have the facility completed by August 2021. Happy Valley plans to use A2 and organic milk to make its products. (Rural News Group, 5/28/19)

French dairy giant Lactalis signed a deal with the Brazilian state of Minis Gerais, wherein Lactalis will invest US$9 million in the region. The money is earmarked for plants in Pouso Alto, Ravenna and Curral Novo for a series of projects, including brie and parmesan production lines. As part of the deal, Lactalis committed to training and hiring additional staff, while the government agreed to assist Lactalis in finding new milk suppliers. (USDEC South America office; Diário do Comércio, 5/28/19)

Mondelez International completed the sale of its Kraft-branded cheese business in the Middle East and Africa to Arla FoodsPhiladelphia cream cheese and Joccacottage cheese were not part of the deal . . . Italian confectionery company Ferrero bought a controlling stake in Spanish ice cream manufacturer Ice Cream Factory Comaker . . . Subsidiaries of Hong Kong-based retailer Dairy Farm International and Singapore dairy, food and beverage firm Fraser & Neavepurchased the license to operate Starbucks outlets in Thailand. Their joint venture, Coffee Concepts Thailand, now controls 372 Thai Starbucks units and plans to focus on accelerating new store development. (USDEC Southeast Asia office; Arabian Business, 5/29/19; FoodBev.com, 5/29/19; Bloomberg, 5/23/19)

Australia’s Freedom Foods is looking to raise A$130 million (about US$90 million) to meet rising demand for UHT milk products in Australia, China and Southeast Asia. About A$100 million of the funds would go to expanding its Shepparton, Victoria, facility . . . F&N said it plans to reformulate about 70% of its product portfolio to offset Malaysia’s new sugar tax set to take effect July 1. The tax will add a penny per liter for drinks that exceed certain baseline sugar content guidelines, including a number of dairy-based drinks. (USDEC Southeast Asia office; Country News, 5/29/19)

June-2

Arla Foods is moving certain processed cheese and sterilized cream production lines from plants in Denmark and Saudi Arabia to its recently acquired manufacturing facility in Manama, Bahrain. Arla gained ownership of the Manama plant as part of its purchase of Mondelez International’s Middle Eastern processed cheese business. The Manama plant’s current capacity exceeds 66,000 tons per year. Arla is moving an estimated 26,000 tons of annual processed cheese capacity from its Bislev site and 18,000 tons from its AKAFA site (both in Denmark). And unspecified volume is shifting from its Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, facility. Arla said the reorganization will provide supply-chain advantages and heighten its competitiveness, since the products making the move are primarily sold in the Middle East and North Africa. One big benefit: It is gaining four weeks of shelf-life due to reduced shipping times. It also said the pilot plant in Manama will help improve the company’s capacity to innovate to regional trends. (Company reports)

Vietnamese infant formula maker Vietnam Nutrition Food Co. (NutiFood)officially opened its joint-venture manufacturing facility in Bjuv, Sweden. NutiFood owns half the facility while Swedish dairy co-op Skånemejerier Ekonomisk Förening and Swedish private investment firm Backahill Group each own 25%. The $20-million facility will produce about 5,000 tons of infant formula and 10,000 tons of milk powder annually for European and international markets. A planned Phase 2 expansion will focus on fresh and canned organic milk. (USDEC Vietnam office)

French dairy giant Lactalis acquired Italian cheese manufacturer Nuova Castelli, buying an 80% stake from UK investment fund Charterhouse Capital Partner and the remaining 20% from additional stakeholders. Nuova Castelli operates 13 sites in Italy and three abroad in Hungary, Poland and the United States. It recorded turnover of €460 million (about US$518 million) in 2018, about 70% of which came from exports. Nuova Castelli produces a number of Italian cheeses, including Parmigiano Reggiano and Mozzarella di Bufala Campana. The deal bolsters Lactalis’s already hefty Italian brand portfolio, including ParmalatGalbaniInvernizziVallelataLocatelli and Cademartori(Le Courier, 5/31/19; FoodBev.com, 5/31/19)

Citing unnamed sources, Britain’s The Telegraph revived speculation that Mondelez International is exploring the sale of its Philadelphia cream cheese business. Rumors that the company is looking to offload the brand have been circulating on and off over the last four years. (The Telegraph, 6/1/19)

Prairie Farms Dairy recently introduced milk snacks, new ice cream flavors and premium milk in quart and 14-ounce containers. New products also include small batch ice cream, available in 25 flavors and whole milk yogurt.
Besides keeping up with changing consumer demands, these efforts are meant compete with alternative beverages. (FarmWeekNow.com, 6/11/19)

Four USDEC members are represented on the list of finalists for the 2019 World Dairy Innovation Awards. Darigold is a finalist in the best dairy drink category for its FIT product. Sargento Foods is a finalist in best dairy snack for Sunrise Balanced Breaks, and Agropur for best butter/dairy spread for Natrel Whipped Cottage Cheese DipDairy Farmers of America is a finalist in four categories: best functional dairy (Live Real Farms Whole Milk Smoothies); best manufacturing/processing innovation (GoPro Camera Installation at Scale), best marketing campaign or initiative (Mud Season Milk), and best new brand/business (Craig’s Creamery). The World Dairy Innovation Awards celebrate and highlight the best dairy industry developments. Winners in all 22 categories will be announced on June 26. (FoodBev Media, 6/4/19)

Lao-Jagro—a joint stock company with investors from Laos and Japan—and Vietnam’s Vinamilk have started construction of an organic dairy “resort’ in Xiangkhouang, Laos. The long-term goal is to develop a farm complex with 100,000 cows, up from the initial 24,000 cows … Saputo Inc. has announced the renewal of its partnership with Le Grand défi Pierre Lavoie, a non-profit organization representing one of the largest health movements in Quebec. Saputo is contributing more than $2.1 million over four years to fund two events: a 270-kilometer youth running relay and a 1,000-kilometer cycling relay. (Dairy Reporter, 6/11/19; Global Newswire, 6/11/19) 

Taiwan’s Jetton Biochemistry Co. plans to open a new facility in Nampa, Idaho, creating 25 jobs and processing 2.4 million pounds of milk per year. It will be a blended powder factory that produces a proprietary dairy formula, according to a press release from the Idaho Department of Commerce … Chinese dairy processors Yili and Mengniu are adding new manufacturing sites to pump up production of fluid milk products. Mengniu announced it is building a new factory in Jiaozuo and Yili will reportedly build a fluid milk site in Lin Dian County … Retailer Spinneys has announced plans to open eight more supermarkets in the United Arab Emirates this year … Oman Food Investment Holding Company has reportedly secured $46 million in financing for new food projects in the Middle East … UK dairy company Müller says it is targeting a total sugar reduction of 25% across its branded yogurt portfolio by June 2020 … At least three dairy companies have expressed an interest in buying Fonterra’s Dennington site—a milk powder and cream production facility on the outskirts of Warrnambool, Australia. Fonterra announced last month that it plans to close the plant. (Idaho Press, 6/11/19; Food Navigator, 6/6/19; Arabian Business, 6/1/19, 6/4/19; Dairy Reporter, 6/11/19; The Weekly Times, 6/11/19)

Darigold has expanded its Mexico operations, hiring four new team members to increase market presence and target a growing Mexican middle class. “We are excited to grow our team in Mexico to deliver services through the addition of these talented individuals,” said Jonathan Spurway, leader of Darigold’s ingredients business. “Given their experience, we are confident the team in Mexico will be able to help Darigold create and foster direct relationships with our customers in Latin America and thereby better understand and serve their unique needs.”

Arla Foods has developed a new artificial intelligence tool to better predict milk production from its farmer-owners, which will allow the Denmark-based dairy cooperative to better utilize the milk it receives and make the value chain more sustainable. Arla's AI tool predicts milk production from 1.5 million cows in only a few hours rather than days. And the predictions are more accurate than when they were made manually using Excel sheets. (Dairy Reporter, 6/17/19)

Swiss dairy company Emmi is increasing its stake in Laticínios Porto Alegre Indústria e Comércio S/A, based in Brazil, from 40% to 70% … New Zealand’sKeytone Dairy Corporation has executed a binding agreement for the strategic acquisition of Omniblend Pty Ltd for A$22.6 million (US$15.5 million). Omniblend is an Australian developer and manufacturer of health and wellness powdered and UHT drink products. (Dairy Reporter, 6/18/19, 6/17/19)

Construction on the $260 million Mazoon Dairy in Oman is 80% complete, and the facility is set to open in July. The dairy is expected to house 5,000 dairy cows by the end of this year – and 25,000 eventually … Saputo Inc. completed a series of acquisitions last year which contributed to higher revenues. In the fiscal year ending in 2018, Saputo posted CAD$11.5 billion (US$8.6 billion) in revenues, which increased by 17% in 2019 … Ekosem-Agrar AG, the German holding company of Russian milk producer Ekoniva Group, has built a 6,000-cow facility in Siberia’s Novosibirsk region … U.S. free-range milk company Hart Dairy has secured $10 million in funding to expand its dairy product capabilities and continue to innovate its animal-welfare practices. Australian-based investment firm Alium Capital helped the process. (ConstructionWeekOnline, 6/11/19; Dairy Reporter, 6/17/19; FoodBev Media, 6/7/19)

Fonterra Co-operative Group sold its 51% stake in UK WPC-maker Fast Forwardto its joint venture partner First Milk. Effective next month, First Milk will become the sole owner of the joint venture’s WPC manufacturing operation at its Lake District Creamery plant. In addition, First Milk unveiled a new sales and distribution partnership with Havero Hoogwegt, part of the Hoogwegt Group. Havero Hoogwegt sells to more than 50 countries and will market Fast Forward’s products. Separately, Fonterra is launching a line of value-added dairy products including UHT milk, milkshakes and yogurt in India through Fonterra Future Dairy, its joint venture with India’s Future Consumer. Fonterra Future Dairy will collaborate with contract processor Schreiber Dynamix Dairies for the initial rollout in Mumbai this month. It expects to start producing its own products at a facility in Tumkur, Karnataka, as it expands distribution nationally. Fonterra is also looking at expanding the product range to include paneer and other cheese. Fonterra originally entered India 20 years ago through a joint venture with Britannia Industries. It exited that JV in 2007. (FoodBev.com, 6/25/19; Dairy Markets, 6/18/19)

Land O’Lakes and Dutch ag co-op Royal Agrifirm Group are setting up a dairy animal feed joint venture in China. The new company, Agrilakes, will initially be based in Agrifirm’s existing manufacturing plant in Tianjin, with plans to build a new dairy premix and specialty plant on adjacent property. Chinese dairy farm growth in northwestern China and producers’ growing sophistication is driving demand for enhanced animal nutrition and productivity, the companies said. (Company reports)

Saudi Arabia’s National Agricultural Development Company (NADEC) announced it was abandoning plans to acquire Al Safi Danone (the Saudi Arabian joint venture between Danone and Al Safi Holding). The deal has been in the works since early 2018. NADEC and Al Safi Danone said the deal was no longer in either company’s best interests . . . Mexican dairy processor Grupo Lalafinalized its acquisition of the Costa Rican dairy brand Mu! from owner Florida Ice and Farm Co. Earlier this year. Lala completed a $14-million upgrade to its San Ramon, Costa Rica, dairy facility . . . Central American investment firm Mesoamerica Group purchased a 35% stake in Colombian dairy manufacturer Alquería(USDEC South America office; La Republica, 6/26/19; The National, 6/23/19)

Japanese dairy trader Lacto Japan Co. plans to establish a wholly-owned sales unit in the Philippines by October to address rising dairy ingredient demand in the country. The official name for the unit will be Lacto Asia (Philippines) Inc. . . . Irish food promotion group Board Bia opened a new office in Tokyo, its third in Asia . . . China’s Junlebao Dairy plans to open a $72-million infant formula and adult nutritional milk powder facility in Tangshan City in October. Plant capacity is reportedly 22,000 tons per year. (USDEC China office; USDEC Southeast Asia office; USDEC Japan office)

Mark O'Keefe is vice president of editorial services at the U.S. Dairy Export Council.

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