The merger between two of the world's largest dairy processors, Friesland Foods and Campina, has moved a step nearer completion after members of the two co-operatives backed the deal.

Farmer members at the Dutch firms held separate meetings to vote on the merger, which will create a EUR9.1bn (US$14bn) dairy giant.

Friesland said an "overwhelming majority" had given the green light to the deal while Campina's members gave their unanimous backing.

The companies' management, who first announced the merger late last year, formally agreed on the move last month.

Friesland chairman Sybren Attema, said: "I am confident that we will create an excellent combination. That applies to the co-operative and the company alike."

The EU has yet to clear the deal but Campina's acting CEO Kees Gielen said he sees the combined FrieslandCampina up and running by the end of the year.

"As soon as we get a decision from the European Commission, we'll be energetically starting out as a new, single company," Gielen added.

The two sides have already outlined the shape of the new firm. FrieslandCampina will consist of four units - Consumer Products Western Europe, Consumer Products International, Cheese & Butter and Ingredients.

Former Unilever executive Cees 't Hart has been lined up as CEO of a company to be based in the Dutch town of Amersfoort.