Talks between Danone-Unimilk and the Belarus government are continuing after authorities threatened to expel the Russian dairy venture from the country for allegedly failing to live up to agreements reached over investment levels.
In February, Belarusian president Alexander Lukashenko accused Danone-Unimilk of exporting products with low added-value without investing in milk processing facilities.
However, ongoing discussions appear to have eased tensions somewhat and last week Belarusian Minister of Agriculture and Food Michael Rusyi told journalists that Belarus “continues operating” with Danone-Unimilk.
According to Rusyi, Danone-Unimilk plans to invest US$24m in a new milk factory in the country.
Danone-Unimilk confirmed yesterday (23 March) that the company is “moving forward in their discussion with Belarusian authorities”, but called the announcement of their new factory plans premature. “No concrete documents have been signed,” a spokesman told just-food.
Russian dairy firm Unimilk has operated two milk factories in Belarus since 2009. Last year, Danone merged its Russian fresh dairy business with Unimilk – and acquired a majority stake in the combined business, Danone-Unimilk.