FrieslandCampina said Bongrain has “very good access” to the French retail market

FrieslandCampina said Bongrain has “very good access” to the French retail market

Dutch dairy giant FrieslandCampina has said its joint venture with Bongrain to sell branded cheese in France will give it access to major retailers in the country.

A spokesperson for FrieslandCampina told just-food today (20 December) Bongrain has "very good access" to the French retail market.

"For us it is more difficult to get into contact with those retailers and for [Bongrain] it is easier as they have access." He, however, declined to name in which retailers it would be looking to gain listings.

The spokesperson said its Frico brand would be the first product marketed by the venture. The brand is already available in France but with limited distribution.

"We have a distribution centre and packaging alliance [for Frico] in France so we already have access to retailers but not as huge as Bongrain has. Frico is in some places but not everywhere."

The spokesperson said it would look to introduce other FrieslandCampina brands sold outside of France.

The deal, however, will have "limited scope", the company has said.

The spokesperson added: "This joint venture is limited to distribution from Bongrain and what we will bring in knowledge about hard and soft cheeses. That is the limitation. It is also limited because Bongrain is active in other countries but this deal is limited to France."

The spokesperson said the venture will not include a potential expansion into other markets.

"It is limited and it is small but we see there is a chance to get access to the [French] market and we believe we can both bring something in that will bring added-value. We start small and then we will see how we develop."

In October, French dairy processor Bongrain told just-food it was becoming more of a challenge for cheese makers to innovate in the current economic climate. The group said there are around 1,000 distinctive cheeses sold in France.

The spokesperson for FrieslandCampina, however, suggested he was confident its cheeses would be successful in the French market.

"We already sell some cheese and what we've found is that the market is certainly interested in Dutch cheese. It's not replacing French cheese but it is adding to the market. It is also seen as a speciality product. We know there is a certain interest in our cheese."