Europe's Arla eyes US dairy expansion

By staff reporter

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Arla Denmark

Arla Foods has indicated it will continue to expand aggressively on
the US speciality cheese sector after a successful 2006, holding up
European dairy firms' push for added value markets across the

Andrew Simpson, president of Arla's US arm, said there were "huge opportunities" ahead and that Arla was only at the start.

The group's success so far is an example of the potential gains added value dairy markets outside of Europe may hold for European dairy firms.

"Our imported business has increased in an environment where imports from Europe have dropped 10 per cent this year,"​ said Simpson, who attributed Arla's success this year to the group's growing operational base in the US itself.

Arla has more than doubled its production in the US during 2006, after buying up the White Clover dairy in Wisconsin and the operations of Tholstrup, the Danish speciality cheese group.

"Imported on its own is not sustainable. If we want to be the category captain and be regarded as the specialist, we must offer both,"​ said Simpson.

Arla has seen soaring sales of Danish havarti cheese in the US this year, particularly in regions with a strong Hispanic community, which is made both in Wisconsin and imported from Denmark.

The firm is now planning to dominate the blue cheese category. "We now have the opportunity to become the category manager. Our imported Rosenborg brand has very strong credibility in the market whilst Tholstrup's Saga brand is seen as a domestic high quality blue-white product,"​ said Simpson.

There is growing confidence in the European dairy industry about its ability to succeed in emerging, added value product markets.

"When you look at the property development and presence of new products on the market, you see that we are much stronger in the EU than the US,"​ Joop Kleibeuker and Veijo Merilaïnen, secretary general and president respectively of the European Dairy Association, told​ in a recent interview.

"That is why we think we are in a good position when you consider markets for added value."

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