Milcobel, the Belgium-based dairy co-op, announced a change among its senior management before Christmas.

Peter Koopmans, Milcobel’s CEO, has stood down “by mutual agreement” with immediate effect, the company said on 20 December.

In a statement, Milcobel suggested the price it was receiving for its milk had not been high enough.

“Just like the entire sector, Milcobel is constantly changing. Change that is driven on the one hand by external dynamics such as market developments and evolutions and policy influences; and on the other hand via internally-driven change processes that aim to improve profitability. Notwithstanding the investments made in recent years, the extensive product portfolio, the positions in new markets, and all current versions of the strategic orientations, Milcobel’s milk price position did not deliver what we expected compared to the environment.”

Milcobel generated a turnover of EUR1.26bn (US$1.41bn) in 2018, up 4% on 2017. Its 2,600 farmer members collect around 1.6 billion litres of milk annually, which is processed into dairy products such as cheese, butter, milk powder, ice cream, milk drinks, cream and whey.

The co-op’s brands include Bruges cheese and Inza milk. It is also a private-label supplier to supermarket chains and an ingredients producer for food manufacturers.

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Dirk Ryckaert, Milcobel’s chairman, said: “With this decision, the board of directors sends a signal that the speed of the ongoing change processes must be increased and that the set objectives must be met quickly and decisively in order to improve the milk price position and profitability both in the short and medium term. The board of directors hereby emphasises the role that it wants to play in the success of the dairy cooperative, in order to ensure a stable future for Milcobel.”