Based entirely on dairy sales figures in 2009 financials and M&A transactions up to June 2010, the list gives a snapshot of the competitive positions of the leading dairy companies.
Analysts at the Rabobank said the main conclusion of the 2009 ranking is that the number of companies from non-western countries is steadily increasing.
New Chinese entrants
Last year, Chinese firm Mengniu entered the top-20 and this year it was the turn of Yili, another Chinese dairy, to break into the list. Rabobank said both companies gained places thanks to the relative stability of both their currency and local retail prices.
No Latin American firms currently feature in the top-20 list but the bank said two are poised to join the club of big global dairies.
Following its acquisition of National Dairy Holdings last year, Mexico-based Grupo Lala should already be in the top-20 and only missed out this time due to a lack of public financial data.
Next year, the merger of Itambé, Centro Leche, Confepar, Mineiras Cemil and Mines Milk will undoubtedly result in a Brazilian entrant in the top-20 so long as it is completed successfully.
Overall, Rabobank said there is a steady increase in the strength of the non-western dairies at the top of the industry.
Commenting on the latest data, it said: “All together, this clearly shows that companies mainly operating in the mature markets of Europe and the United States may find it hard to achieve further growth, while companies operating in developing markets have ample opportunity to increase sales simply by keeping up with domestic market growth.”
Nevertheless, European, North American and Australasian companies continue to dominate the upper echelons of the dairy industry taking all of the top-10 places. The biggest five companies on the list were Nestle, Danone, Lactalis, FrieslandCampina and Fonterra.