The meeting follows the announcement last week that Lactalis had acquired a 91.5 per cent stake in local group Dukat as part of its plans to enter the country's growing dairy sector. Croatian milk sales are expected to see strong growth over the coming years, particularly for processors that are able to tap into a growing trend for milk that can retain a longer life. As part of the deal, Lactalis has assured the government that it will work on improving milk quality and local production facilities within the country. A Lactalis spokesperson told CEE-foodindustry.com that it was looking to further develop Dukat's processing capabilities to meet demand for greater innovation within the milk and dairy market. "This zone is in a process of strong economic development and we think we can participate to the development of Croatian dairy industry by bringing our technology and capacity of investments which we have proven in many other countries, to develop local and international brands," he said. Lactalis' expectations of profit through the renovation scheme are matched by consumer analysts Euromonitor's own predictions for growth in the market for milk products. According to the group's estimates, the milk market in Croatia is expected to continue growing strongly over the next five years, driven by interest for ultra heat treatment (UHT) milk. The market for UHT milk and long life milk products is expected to have grown to €103m from €86m in 2006. This growth will offset decline within the market for fresh pasteurised milk, which currently dominates the sector. This market is expected to decline by €10m up to 2011 to €148m. UHT is a process designed to increase the shelf life and safety of milk by heating the product briefly to at least 135°C to kill any Bacteria present.
Safety and innovation were on the agenda this week, when the head of French dairy group Lactalis met with the Croatian vice president to discuss the company's plans for rejuvenating the country's dairy sector.