Union officials representing staff at Sodiaal has criticised the French dairy giant for being interested in factories owned by rival Terra Lacta – as it plans to close three of its own plants.

The FGA-CFDT claims that Sodiaal it is “taking a close interest” in acquiring three factories owned by the Terra Lacta co-operative, while is planning to close three of its Candia milk plants.

“Beyond the fact the FGA-CFDT defends the idea that an alternative exists for one of the three Candia plants and is urging management to open negotiations on the subject, we are opposed to Sodiaal’s policy which consists of eliminating its competitors by buying them out, then restructuring or closing production sites and snapping up, in passing, contracts with milk producers,” the union said.

Sodiaal was not available for immediate comment.

Last month, Terra Lacta confirmed plans to close two plants in western France by the end of March 2014, one producing UHT milk and the other goat cheese.

Contacted by just-food, Terra Lacta declined to comment on whether Sodiaal had expressed an interest in the plants the group is planning to shut down.