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Also on in 2012.....

By Mark Astley , 21-Dec-2012

Protesting farmers sprayed European Parliament buildings and riot police during milk price protest earlier this year.
Protesting farmers sprayed European Parliament buildings and riot police during milk price protest earlier this year.

Another year gone! The global dairy sector has had somewhat of a dramatic twelve months - dairy farmer protests, Parmalat “embezzlement” searches, and Chinese dairy sector investment.

Over the summer, UK dairy processors were hit by wave after wave of demonstrations and blockades by militant milk suppliers. 

The disgruntled farmers, led by the Farmers for Action (FFA) campaign group, disrupted processing and distribution at dairy plants up and down the UK, demanding an increase in the price paid for raw milk.

Arla Foods, Robert Wiseman Dairies and Dairy Crest all crumbled to the farmer demands, and increased the price they pay to suppliers.

Later in the year, these protests and blockades spilled over into mainland Europe.

In November 2012, between 3,500 and 4,000 dairy farmers from 14 European countries, with 1,000 tractors, descended on the European Parliament in Brussels to call attention to low milk prices across the continent.

European Parliament buildings and a few unfortunate riot police were sprayed with milk during the two-day demonstration.

Parmalat ‘embezzlement’

Elsewhere in Europe, Italian dairy processor Parmalat fell under the eye of criminal suspicion.....again.

Just last week, Italian Tax Police executed search warrants at Parmalat’s Collecchio headquarters and at the offices of its management company, Gruppo Lactalis Italia. 

The Public Prosecutor in Parma also issued notices to several Parmalat executives, informing them that they are under investigated for “aggravated embezzlement” in relation to the firm’s May 2012 intra-group acquisition of Lactalis American Group (LAG).

Chinese dairy growth

In China, Western dairy processors continued to increase their presence.

Danish dairy co-operative Arla Foods revealed in June that it had entered into an agreement with China’s leading food and beverage firm, COFCO Corporation, to become an indirect shareholder of Mengniu Dairy Company.

In November, Fonterra announced that it had signed an investment agreement with Chinese authorities to develop two more large-scale farms in the country. 

Dean Foods carve-up

In North America earlier this month, Canadian dairy giant Saputo announced that it had entered into an agreement with Dean Foods to buy the Dallas-based company’s Morningstar division.

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