An executive from the Swedish-Danish company Arla Foods has distanced the company from last month’s cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed and expressed sympathy with Middle Eastern consumers.

Arla Foods director general Peder Tuborgh was quoted on the website of the daily Politiken saying: “In the campaign we want to express our sympathy for our consumers in the Middle East and distance ourselves from the offence caused to them.”

Milk-products manufacturer Arla reportedly has 6-8% of its business in Arab countries and told AFX that boycotts are costing the company approximately DKK10m (US$1.6m) per day.

Meanwhile, in response to recent media speculation, Arla has confirmed it is not boycotting Israeli exports and will continue to provide milk powder, cheese and butter to the market, with value in the region of DKK200m each year.

In a statement, Arla Foods deputy managing director Andreas Lundby said: “We have never boycotted Israel, and we have never agreed to do so, on the contrary, our trade with Israel is growing.”