French dairy giant Groupe Lactalis has signalled its commitment to maintaining Rachel’s brand and production in mid-Wales, according to Calon Wen, the co-operative that supplies all of the organic yogurt maker’s milk.
Rachel’s employs 140 staff at its site near Aberystwyth and is best-known for its 100% organic yogurts that are supplied to major multiples, hotels and independent retailers. It was sold to Groupe Lactalis in late July by Dean Foods for an undisclosed sum.
Calon Wen chairman Owen Lort-Phillips said: “We are encouraged that Lactalis have indicated that they are committed to developing and growing the brand and maintaining production in Wales.
"This is excellent news for our members, and we look forward to playing our part in ensuring that the renowned quality of the Rachel’s brand continues.”
Welsh organic success
Lort-Phillips added that Calon Wen, which comprises 23 dairy farmers, had always been confident that Rachel’s could successfully remain at its Aberystwyth dairy. He said that co-operative was confident of working successfully with Groupe Lactalis to “prove” this.
“With Welsh closures the talking point for years amongst the dairy industry, we are delighted to be in a position to build on the fantastic legacy…linked to the development of this iconic brand in Aberystwyth,” he said.
“We have always said that having a strong brand at the heart of the organic dairy sector in Wales is good for farmers, the local economy and the Welsh food industry.”
The good news for Calon Wen comes in the wake of a media report in mid-July that quoted chairman Richard Tomlinson's concerns over the sale.
He said that Groupe Lactalis had failed to contact Calon Wen with a view to securing Rachel’s milk field, which raised questions amongst commentators as to the French firm’s commitment to the long-term future of both the yogurt maker and Calon Wen.
Started on a farm in Borth in the 1960s, family-owned Rachel’s initially sold milk, cream, butter and yogurt to local stores. After building a purpose-built dairy in 1990 the company was taken over by US food and beverage giant Dean Foods in 2004.
The 100% organic company supplies Waitrose, Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Morrison’s as well as The Ritz Hotel, Eurostar and a host of independent retailers with more than 10m pots of yogurt a year.