The supervisory board of Germany’s largest dairy cooperative DMK has approved the closure of some of its sites, moves announced in June as a result of the departure of farms from the co-op and the consequent drop in supplies.

Production at the Rimbeck and Bad Bibra plants “will no longer be carried forward” and they will close in the first quarter of 2018 at the earliest, DMK said yesterday (26 September).

Meanwhile, cheese cutting will be discontinued at the Nordhackstedt site in Schleswig-Holstein and the factory will shut in mid-2018. 

A plant in Bergen auf Rugen will also close no later than the second half of 2019 mainly due to the high production costs of the east German soft cheese Rugener Badejunge.

The majority of the board members approved the measures.

DMK will offer support to the 270 affected employees, it said.

The company said it “extremely” regrets the decision to close the plants but saw no economic alternative, adding that it was “necessary to protect thousands of additional jobs in the farms of our farmers and in our plants”.

The company’s 20 remaining sites in Germany and the Netherlands are not affected by the measures, protecting the jobs of about 7,000 employees.

Six newly established business units will continue to focus on “individual core markets so that DMK can focus more strongly on selected core markets and categories and can thus accelerate”, DMK said. This spring, DMK revamped its organisation into six units – brand, private label, industry, ice cream, baby and international.

DOC Dairy Partners, a Dutch subsidiary of DMK, said in July it had acquired parts of local cheese company UnieKaas, including the company’s production facility in Kaatsheuvel in the centre of the Netherlands.

Last December, DMK announced plans to expand its existing dairy plant at Strückhausen in Lower Saxony to create “a forward-looking production site” for baby food by the end of 2017.

The new facility will also take on production of the group’s Humana infant formula brand, which to date has been manufactured at its Herford joint venture operation with German baby food maker Hipp in northern Germany.