The company has announced plans to centralize Mozzarella production within its European markets – by consolidating production of the cheese at its Rødkærsbro site in Denmark – and has started negotiating with a potential buyer for the dairy site in Poland.
Arla said in a statement that both parties signed a formal ‘letter of intent’ last week, and plan to finalise the transaction for the yellow cheese production site, which employs 100 staff, by the end of this year.
An Arla spokesman told DairyReporter.com: “Our interest is hopefully finding a buyer who commits to carrying on production. The potential that we’re talking to right now has an interest in mind, although we can’t give their name out at this point.
“Their plan is, as far as we understand it is to carry on production and thus keep the jobs at this site.”
Strategic growth market
Hans Christensen, Arla’s company’s senior vice president responsible for emerging markets and the US said that the sale process would not affect the company’s sales activities in Poland.
“We consider Poland to be a strategic growth market, and we remain fully dedicated to continuing the current growth of our branded business on this market, which has doubled within the last 2 years thanks to products like Lurpak butter, Buko cream cheese and yellow cheese,” he said.
But Christensen said that selling the Goscino dairy made sense for Arla, since most of Arla’s mozzarella business came from elsewhere in Europe and was not part of the firm’s plans for its Polish brand stable.
The spokesman added: “Mozzarella produced at this site is cheese we’re selling elsewhere in Europe. So for us, selling the site will not affect our abilities or our position in Poland. Our strategy there is to focus on other types of strong, fast-growing brands such as cream cheese and Lurpak butter.”
Polish alliance sought
“We want to continue to grow our brands, and continue to look for a strategic partner. It’s no secret is a ‘strategic growth market’ for us," the spokesman said.
He added: "In the long-term we’re interested in expanding our presence in Poland, possibly by partnering someone else via a joint venture, some other alliance, or potentially acquisitions.”
Christensen said: “Our priority in Poland is to offer consumers high-quality butter and cheese products and to continue our search for business partner relationships, joint venture opportunities and acquisitions that will support our category focus.”