French dairy products group Lactalis has strengthened its position in Egypt, the biggest market in the Middle East region, by taking control of a second plant specialising in the production of melting cheeses.

Last summer, Lactalis took a majority stake in the Cairo-based Al Nour Company, which produces 16,000 tonnes of melting cheeses annually. All of the plant’s output is destined for export.

The second plant, which is also located in the Egyptian capital, was owned by Lactalis’ local partner, Halawa.

The firm will be renamed, the “Best Cheese Company and manufacture around 16,000 tonnes of melting cheeses annually. These will be made in portion format for the domestic market and generate a turnover of EUR€40m (US$48.2m). The portions will be marketed under the Teama and President brands which have a combined 60% share of the Egyptian market.

Last month, Lactalis announced it was setting up a joint venture company with Nestlé in 2006 dedicated to the fresh dairy products segment in Europe.