Anglo-Dutch food giant Unilever currently manufactures a number of frozen dairy products in Switzerland which are marketed under the Lusso brand in both the domestic Swiss market and also the Dutch export market.
Although both companies declined to release any financial details of the distribution arrangement, Emmi's spokesperson Stephan Wehrle told DairyReporter.com that "this is only a tiny deal, but is a logical step which will help optimise our distribution service".
In a press statement yesterday, Emmi also confirmed that 32 employees at Unilever's Ostermundigen distribution hub would be incorporated into its existing logistics operation.
The arrangement with Unilever perhaps marks a change in strategy for the Swiss dairy company, which has previously stated that its long-term objective is to consolidate export sales across its speciality cheese division - an area of considerable potential.
In 2003, for instance, the company generated an estimated turnover of CHF400 million (€264 million) through exports of speciality cheeses including Emmenthal and Gruyère.
Furthermore, cheese sales accounted for 49 per cent of sales worth an estimated CHF1.8 billion (€1.1 billion), with chilled products and dairy divisions accounting for 24 and 25 per cent of sales respectively.
"Although ice cream only accounts for a small proportion of our current business, it is certainly one of great potential," Wehrle said.
"For the short-term, however, the main priority is to increase sales of our long-standing products, such as the Café Latte and Benecol brands," he added.
Emmi's relationship with Unilever dates back to its acquisition in 2003 of the cheese division of defunct Swiss dairy group Swiss Dairy Food (SDF), which was a distributor of Unilever ice cream products in Switzerland at that time.
A spokesperson for Unilever's Swiss division commented: "We already have similar distribution deals with dairy companies across Switzerland. We have also co-operated with Emmi prior to this agreement."
Emmi currently manufactures a number of yoghurts, dairy desserts and dairy-based beverages, and in recent years has successfully penetrated the burgeoning western European trend for functional dairy drinks with its probiotic dairy brands Aktifit and Benecol.