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.
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.
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.
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