France cheese sector set for shake-up

France cheese sector set for shake-up

Four dairy co-operatives operating in the east of France are planning to merge, forming the fourth-largest player in the French dairy market.

A “cooperation agreement” between Cooperative Agricole Laitiere de Blamont, the Union Laitiere des Producteurs Lorrains, the Cooperative de l'Ermitage et l'Union Laitiere de la Meuse and the Union Agricole Comtoise has set the scene for a merger of their production by the end of the year.

A spokesperson for Cooperative Agricole Laitiere de Blamont told just-food that the cooperatives' increased scale will help the dairy groups resist pressure to prune and restructure operations.

The French dairy sector is facing mounting difficulties – especially in light of the planned changes to the EU's Common Agricultural Policy in 2015 – the spokesperson suggested.

The merged entity will be a “powerhouse” in eastern France, particularly in the cheese category, the spokesperson added.

The enlarged cooperative will operate production sites in the Vosges, Meurthe et Moselle, Meuse, Jura, Doubs and Alsace, with 1,500 employees.