Movement in Rabobank’s annual Global Dairy Top 20 - who tops the list?

By Jim Cornall contact

- Last updated on GMT

Dairy Farmers of America and Yili have both broken into the top five. Pic: Getty Images/jurgenfr
Dairy Farmers of America and Yili have both broken into the top five. Pic: Getty Images/jurgenfr

Related tags: Rabobank, Danone, Nestlé, Lactalis, Yili, mengniu, Arla foods

Rabobank has published its report on the global top 20 dairy companies.

And while the top two remain the same, there’s plenty of movement in the other 18 spots.

Rabobank bases its data on dairy turnover in 2019, which it defines as dairy sales only, based on 2019 financials and M&A transactions completed between January 1 and June 30, 2020.

Nestlé retains it spot at the top with turnover of $22.1bn. Close behind is Lactalis, at 21bn.

Moving up three places to third overall is Dairy Farmers of America, at $20.1bn.  That pushed Danone down a place to fourth.  This jump was due to acquisition of Dean Foods, which was previously at number 11 in the Top 20.

There is also a jump of three places for Chinese dairy giant Yili, which rounds out the top 5. Fonterra drops two spots to sixth, and FrieslandCampina is down to seventh from fifth.

Another Chinese dairy company, Mengniu, jumps from tenth to eighth, while Arla Foods drops two places to ninth, with Saputo sliding one spot to tenth overall.

The only new entry into the top 20 is Gujurat Co-operative Milk Marketing Federation, from India, which is in the 16th​ spot.

Top 20 dairy companies:

1 (1)     Nestlé​  Switzerland  22.1bn
2 (2)     Lactalis​  France  21bn
3 (6)     Dairy Farmers of America​  US  20.1bn
4 (3)     Danone​  France  18.2bn
5 (8)     Yili​  China  13.4bn
6 (4)     Fonterra​  New Zealand  13.2bn
7 (5)     FrieslandCampina​  Netherlands  12.6bn
8 (10)   Mengniu​  China  11.9bn
9 (7)      Arla Foods​  Denmark  11.8bn
10 (9)    Saputo​  Canada  11.3bn
11 (13)  DMK​  Germany  6.5bn
12 (12)  Unilever​  Netherlands/UK  6.4bn
13 (16)  Meiji​  Japan  5.9bn
14 (15)  Sodiaal​  France  5.7bn
15 (17)  Savencia​  France  5.6bn
16 (-)    Gujarat Co-Operative Milk Marketing Federation​  India  5.5bn
17 (18)  Agropur​  Canada  5.5bn
18 (14)  Kraft Heinz​  US  5.4bn
19 (19)  Schreiber Foods ​ US  5.1bn
20 (20)  Müller​  Germany  4.9bn

Ranking in brackets is previous year's position
amounts are sales turnover in US dollars

Data from Rabobank

Rabobank’s annual listing highlights the strategic movements within one of the world’s most valuable food sectors.

“Exchange rate fluctuations, modest commodity price appreciation, below-trend increases in milk production in key exporting countries, and limited organic growth in major dairy categories contributed to relatively modest gains in the combined turnover of the Global Dairy Top 20,”​ according to Mary Ledman, Rabobank’s dairy global strategist.

In US dollar terms, this means the combined turnover increased by 1.3% on the year, vs. the 2.5% increase posted in 2018.

The report noted that mergers and acquisitions in dairy totaled 115 deals in 2019, three more than the previous year. Of these 115 deals, 64 were in Europe, 39 in North America, and 25 in Asia.

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