Leche Pascual has teamed up with Venezuela’s Empresas Polar to build a yoghurt factory in the Latin American country in a bid to take half the market in ten years.

Pascual and Polar, Venezuela’s largest food company, will invest US$104m to build the site in Valencia, Venezuela, which is scheduled to start production in the first half of 2012.

Pascual international market director Tomas Melendez would not reveal production rates but said the factory will initially employ 200 staff and 300 in the medium term.

The two groups will establish a jointly-owned dairy firm Pascual Andina to distribute the yoghurts, which will be marketed under an undisclosed brand name.

The venture will make solid and liquid yoghurts, which Melendez said have little penetration in Venezuela, where main rivals Alpina, Lacteos Los Andes and Nestle mainly target upmarket consumers.

Pascual and Polar’s strategy is to make a long-lasting yoghurt that does not require refrigeration and is therefore affordable to the country’s middle and lower classes.

“We want this yoghurt to be accessible to everyone any time,” Melendez told just-food yesterday (11 November). He said Hugo Chavez’s socialist government is unlikely to want to expropriate the business as “our yoghurts will be a very popular product and very good for consumers and there is a lack of products with a high nutritional value”.