Lactalis could be set to come back into the race for the takeover of struggling French counterpart Entremont Alliance.
A period of exclusive talks between Entremont and a third French dairy group, Sodiaal, expired on 30 November without an agreement being reached.

Speculation surrounds Lactalis's intentions but the dairy processor is now at liberty to make an offer for Entremont.
Lactalis was not immediately available for comment when contacted by just-food but, in an earlier interview with the AFP news agency, spokesman Luc Morelon underlined that the group had not submitted a bid for Entremont. It would be several days before any decision would be made, Morelon told AFP.
However, Morelon went on to reveal Lactalis had written to Entremont's milk suppliers and offered to pay them at the same amount as its own suppliers - a higher rate than that proposed by Sodiaal.
An Entremont spokesman confirmed to just-food that Lactalis had made an offer to the group's producers.

"However, Lactalis has not made a bid for Entremont," he insisted. "We continue to hold negotiations with Sodiaal on a possible merger, the only difference being that these are no longer exclusive but we are not talking to anyone else at this point."
Lactalis's offer comes amid a reportedly cool response by Entremont's producers to Sodiaal's proposal that they contribute financially to the restructuring of the group.
No one could reached for immediate comment at Sodiaal.