Arla Foods has opened a Dano milk powder packaging facility in Senegal as part of the European dairy group’s bid to grow in western Africa.

The 14,000 square foot facility in Dakar, the country’s capital, has the capacity to process 5,000 tonnes of milk a year produced. Fat-filled milk powder and instant whole milk powder will be re-packed into various retail-sized packaging, for example foil sachets, which are affordable and can be mixed with water to get a glass of milk, Arla said.

The sachets from the plant will initially be distributed to wholesalers and stores in Senegal by Arla’s partner, Dakar-based partner Agroline. Distribution will be extended to neighbouring countries at a later date. 

“The facility is the latest milestone in Arla’s ambition to actively take part in developing the dairy market in west Africa and providing affordable nutrition of high quality to consumers in the region. It will also contribute with jobs as we will initially employ 20 people in the production and more as we grow the sales and thereby also the production volume,” said Steen Hadsbjerg, head of Arla’s business in sub-Saharan Africa. “Agroline has a very strong ambient and chilled distribution setup across Senegal. Senegal will be our hub for expanding into Mali and also Mauretania with our products. Depending on capacity we expect to launch in Mali later this year.”

Arla already offers Dano long-life liquid milk in Senegal. The co-op said its ambition is to “drive a full, value-added product range”. Beyond supplying retailers in Senegal, in March, Arla signed a mozzarella agreement with Yum-Yum, a local pizza chain in the country.

Arla entered Senegal last September, when it established a joint venture with Senegalese conglomerate Attieh Group. At the time, Arla said it expects to build annual revenue of EUR32m (US$36.1m) in the country by 2020. The joint venture, in which Arla holds a 75% stake, handles packaging, marketing, sales and distribution of Arla products in Senegal.