French dairy group Lactalis has warned that protests by producers over milk prices could escalate ahead of national talks to be held later this week.

Yesterday (17 November) evening, around 50 milk producers began a blockade of Lactalis's plant at Onet-le-Château, in the Midi-Pyrenées region. Protesters set fire to tyres and pallets in front of the plant in order to prevent the entry and exit of vehicles.

"This is the kind of sporadic action we have been seeing of late and which will probably escalate over the next couple of days ahead of fresh talks on prices at national level between producers and the dairy companies," a Lactalis spokesman told just-food today.

"We are hoping an agreement can be reached this week," he added.   

Protest levels increased yesterday with action outside the Danone dairy plant at Villecomtal-sur-Arros, while milk producers in the Lozère département dumped several thousands of litres of milk outside state buildings in Mende.