Arla re-starts cheese production for Middle East

By Chris Mercer

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Middle east, Arabian peninsula, Arla foods

Arla Foods has re-started cheese production for the Middle East
dairy market, but warned the move did not represent significant
progress in beating the boycott there.

Arla has re-employed eight of the previous 50 workers at its dairy plant in Nibe, Denmark, to make Puck cheese for the Middle East.

The group cancelled all production for the region earlier this year, after consumers there stopped buying Arla's products, in protest at cartoons of the prophet Muhammad published by a Danish newspaper.

The decision to re-start production in Nibe has been made to prevent Arla running out of fresh stock in the Middle East this autumn, an Arla spokesperson told DairyReporter.com​.

"If we want to stay in the market, we have to deliver fresh products. This is not because the situation in the Middle East has turned."

Arla re-iterated that sales to the Middle East were rising slowly, but were still only a quarter of those before the boycott, when annual sales were running at €429m.

Consumers, particularly in the key Saudi Arabian market, have continued to reject Arla products.

"Most of the major retailers have put our products back on shelves, but people are still reluctant to buy them,"​ said the Arla spokesperson, adding that "most retailers look to place our products in the back of their stores in order not to provoke consumers"​.

Finn Hansen, Arla's divisional director, described the situation in the Middle East as "critical"​. The dairy firm estimated it would lose €53m from the boycott this year, but that figure may rise.

Related topics: Arla Foods, Manufacturers, Cheese

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