Dairy giant Tine Mejeri’s main challenger, the independent Q dairies (Q-Meieriene) are on the brink of bankruptcy. Conceived by former Agriculture Minister Gunhild Øyangen to challenger the monopolistic Tine Mejeri, Q is hanging by a thread. .

The Kavli grocery chain is the main shareholder in the stricken dairy. Last year Q dairies lost NKr20m producing milk and yoghurt. The previous year’s results were just as weak. “Our economic situation is difficult. We have to stop working in a few weeks if we don’t get an improvement,” said chairman Leif Stråtveit to Norwegian daily Aftenposten. He is also on the board of the dairy’s main shareholder Kavli, which has invested NKr30m in the company. He admits that the money will be lost if the company is closed down, but sees no way to continue operating, unless the authorities get involved.

The company has a turnover of NKr8m and is Norway’s only milk supplier not owned by the milk farmers, after Nordsås Gårdsmeieri went bankrupt in 1998 after three years of trading.

Tine Norske Meierier is owned by 5000 milk farmers and has a turnover of around NKr11bn.

By Penny Leese, just-food.com correspondent