Switzerland's Emmi group has created a new company, as yet unnamed, which will combine all its various processed cheese operations under one management.
The Lucerne-based Emmi is to merge Gerberkäse (based in Thun), Tiger Käse (Langnau) and Zingg (Liebefeld) from next year in a move which it claims will provide a major marketing push for fondue, processed and curd cheeses.
Production will gradually be concentrated in the Langnau and Thun locations in the period up to 2005. The company said that it would try to ensure that no jobs would be lost as a result of the changes.
The new company, which will begin operations on 1 January 2004 will have a turnover of around SF130 million (€88.6m), half of which will come from exports. The merger will strengthen the Gerber, Tiger and Swiss Knight brands, which have strong market positions in Italy, Germany, the Benelux countries and North America.
The company said its strategy was now in place for a successful, long-term international marketing campaign to market fondue in particular as a genuine Swiss product.
The production of fondue, processed and curd cheeses (known in Switzerland under the names Gala and Lido) will gradually be concentrated at the Langnau and Thun facilities by 2005. The equipment from Zingg's Liebefeld production facility will be relocated either to Langnau or Thun.
Meanwhile, Emmi has said it also plans to restructure its chilled product division via a gradual relocation of the plant from its Basel dairy to Bern-Ostermundigen. The move will affect some 15 jobs this year, with 30 more going by the end of 2004. Emmi has, however, offered all those affected alternative employment within the group (at its Bern, Dagmersellen or Emmen locations).
Emmi has been producing yoghurt and UHT products in Basel since 2000 after taking over the production facilities from Coop. However, its rental agreement with the Coop was only for a short period, and with Emmi's acquisition of the Bern-Ostermundigen dairy in January 2003, it makes more sense to concentrate production on that one location.