Blog: Dean BestChina's Yili gained as dairy market curdled in 2015

Dean Best | 26 July 2016

Rabobank's annual league table of the world's largest dairy companies has been released - and the data underlines what a challenging market it has been in recent months.

"The big story in this year’s top 20 list of dairy companies - based on turnover - is the shrinkage of the overall size of the pie. Low dairy commodity prices and currency movements have had a dramatic downward effect on company sales values," Kevin Bellamy, Rabobank's global dairy strategist, reflected.

Measured in US dollars, the top 20 companies in the Rabobank poll posted combined sales of US$194bn in 2015, down 13% year-on-year.

China's Yili, which became the first emerging-market dairy company to break into Rabobank's top ten in 2013, was the only business in the first 12 on the list to see sales grow in US dollars last year. Yili's sales were up 8% at $9.3bn, moving the company from tenth to eighth, leapfrogging Canada's Saputo and US group Dean Foods.

The only other movement in the top ten was Dairy Farmers of America moving from fifth to fourth following the US co-op's move to take full control of its DairiConcepts venture with Fonterra.

Germany's Muller jumped the most places, rising from 20 to 15 after its acquisition of the dairies business of UK group Dairy Crest.

There was one new entrant in the top 20, with Canadian co-op Agropur replacing US peer Land O'Lakes.

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