History of Lactalis

1933

  • October 19 : André Besnier goes into business at 52 rue d'Avesnières in Laval with 1 employee. 35 litres of milk collected and 17 Camembert cheeses made on the first day.

1947

  • Turnover : 12 million old French Francs (120,000 FF), 25 employees André Besnier’s private company becomes a "SARL" (limited liability company) and is renamed "Société Laitière de Laval A. Besnier et Cie".

1955

  • At 27, Michel Besnier replaces André Besnier as the head of the company after the latter dies suddenly on 21st June 1955 aged 61. He takes charge of a company with 50 employees. Turnover : 250 million old French Francs (2.5 million FF) Quantity of milk collected annually : 7 million litres.

1961

  • The "Société Laitière de Laval A. Besnier et Cie" becomes the "Société Laitière Besnier".
  • Quantity of milk collected annually : 32 million litres. Fresh pasteurized milk is packed into cartons in Laval.

1967

  • Quantity of milk collected annually : 110 million litres. The company opens the first of its industrial premises to be situated outside Laval : a dry product factory in Mayenne.

1968

  • Launch of Président Camembert The "Laiterie de Vitré" (Vitré Dairy) opens with the launch of the Tetrapack carton of pasteurised milk.

1970

  • Annual Camembert production : 18 million units. 7 production sites: Laval, Mayenne (Mayenne), Vitré (Ille-et-Vilaine), Rouez (Sarthe), Barbery, Condé (Calvados), Athis (Orne)

1976

  • 2000 employees, turnover : 1 billion French Francs. Inauguration of the world’s first ‘continuous-use’ coagulator in Domfront with a capacity of 225,000 Camemberts per day.

1980

  • Turnover : 2,665 billion French Francs. Quantity of milk collected annually : 1.2 billion litres.
  • Purchase of the Société Atlalait which extends the collection zone to the French regions of Vendée and Loire_Atlantique
  • 27 production sites. The Group's production of drinking milk exceeds 100 million litres. Turnover outside France : 350 million French Francs (i.e. 11% of the total turnover).

1985

  • Turnover : 7.2 billion French Francs, 5,300 employees
  • Quantity of milk collected annually : 2.2 billion litres
  • Acquisition of the Claudel Roustang company, a subsidiary of the Nestlé Group
  • The Emmental cheese-making factory in Charchigné (Mayenne) opens its doors. The Group becomes the leading French butter producer. The Lactel brand is launched in the ultra-fresh product market.

1987

  • The Turlock factory in California, USA, and the new cheese dairy in Saint-Maclou in the Calvados region opened.

1988

  • Purchase of Solaisud's assets in Toulouse, Montauban and Auch, giving the company full ownership of the Lactel brand.

1990

  • Takeover of the Bridel Group and its subsidiary Lanquetot who have a turnover of 5.5 billion FF, collect 1.2 billion litres of milk, own 10 factories in France and one in the US (in Elmdale, Wisconsin), and have 2,550 employees. This amounts to half of the Besnier Group.

1991

  • Turnover : 18 billion FF, 10,000 employees
  • Quantity of milk collected annually : 4 billion litres
  • Annual production of Camembert : 313 million units.
  • Acquisition of the Valmont Group with their 5 factories and the brands Valmont, Chèvretines, Rondelé, and B'A.
  • Purchase of the Girod company, leading producer of Reblochon cheese.
  • Launch of Président Emmental, destined to become the market leader in
    six years.

1992

  • Takeover of the Société des Caves and its US subsidiary Sorrento from Nestlé.
  • They bring the Group 8 factories in France, 3 in the US, a turnover of 3.5 billion FF, 2,000 employees and the "Société", "Louis Rigal", "Maria Grimal", "Salakis", "Pyrénéfrom", "Corsica", "Sorrento" and "Precious" brands .
  • Purchase of "Philipona", a company active in the Comté cheese market.
  • Lactel launches the "Éveil" brand.

1994

  • The Group’s turnover outside France reaches one third of total turnover: i.e. 8 billion FF. Annual production of drinking milk : 1 billion litres.
  • Quantity of milk collected outside France every year : 1 billion litres.
  • The Emmental factory in Bouvron (Loire-Atlantique) and the new Belmont factory inWisconsin, USA, are opened.

1996

  • Annually the Group collects 5.3 billion litres of milk, of which 1 billion are collected outside of France.
  • The Group produces 25 different PDO cheeses in France.
  • Annual production of Emmental exceeds the 50,000-tonne mark.
  • The Group takes over the activities of the Nikolaïev Cooperative in Ukraine.
  • Acquisition of the Polser company in Siemiatycze, Poland.

1997

  • Agreement with the ucanel cooperative regarding the takeover of its industrial activities.
  • Purchase of the cheese-making activities of Locatelli in Italy from Nestle.

1998

  • Group cheese production reaches 400,000 tonnes.
  • Turnover : 30 billion FF, export turnover : 10 billion FF, 14,000 employees.

1999

  • Société Besnier becomes Lactalis Group. Acquisition of two large cheese-making companies in the USA : Concord Marketing and Simplot Dairy. The Lactopôle is inaugurated by Michel Besnier.

2000

  • Mr. Michel Besnier passes away. His son, Emmanuel, takes over as the head of the Lactalis Group.

2002

  • The Group opens its first processed cheese factory in Russia. Lactalis collects a total of 6.9 billion litres of milk. Turnover is 5.5 billion euros, which makes it number two in Europe, way ahead of any other French dairy company. The Président brand is a French dairy market leader, distributed in 128 countries and covers the entire range of dairy produce.

2003

  • Acquisition of Invernizzi, the Italian subsidiary of the Kraft Group, which has a turnover of €95 million and produces nearly 20,000 tonnes of cheese such as Gorgonzola, Crescenza and Mozzarella. The Caravaggio factory, near Milan, processes 150 million litres of milk per year.
  • Takeover of Cema, a family-run food company based in Lille, owners of a range of spreads under the Primevere brand name.

2004

  • Agreement with API, an American investment fund, to purchase the shares of Foodmaster International, a company that operates in Kazakhstan, Ukraine and Moldavia and collects a total of almost 100 million litres of milk. Its turnover is $60 million worth of milk, kefir, cream, yoghurt and cheese. This is a useful addition to the Group's successful activities in the Ukraine and Russia and strengthens Lactalis' position in the CIS.
  • Purchase of the Spanish assets of the French cooperative 3A : five milk-producing factories that also process 480 million litres of milk in Spain, which bring the Lauki and Chufi brands under the Group's control
  • The purchase of American company Rondelé strengthens the Group's position in the US specialities market.
  • Takeover of the Kurov cooperative, a Polish producer of twarog, a fresh cheese that is widely consumed in East European countries.
  • Purchase of Scottish company McLelland, owner of the Seriously Strong brand name : Lactalis becomes number two in the UK cheddar market, with its production capacity of some 45,000 tonnes of Cheddar in 5 factories in Scotland and one in Wales.

2005

  • Purchase of the Italian company Cademartori, an subsidiary of the Bel Group, and a specialist in traditional cheese in Italy with a famous brand.
  • The Group takes control of Al Nour, a company that built a processed cheese factory in Egypt.
  • Takeover of UFIC, owner of the Pride brand and producer of processed cheese in Saudi Arabia.
  • Acquisition of Bacha, a company based in Winnica, Poland, a deal that consolidates the Group's position in the twarog market.
  • Takeover of the Egyptian company ACFFI, a producer of processed cheese.
  • Proposed joint-venture with Nestlè to create the second largest chilled products company in Europe, of which Lactalis will hold a 60% share. The new company will market the B'A, Bridelice, La Laitière, Sveltesse, Yoco, Munch Bunch, Ski and Fruttolo brands.

2006

  • Takeover of Galbani, cheese market leader in Italy and number one for Italian-style cheeses in Europe. This turns Lactalis into the world's second-largest cheese company.
  • The Lactalis Group has signed an agreement with the family Group Célia, which is based in Craon (Mayenne). Under the terms of this agreement, it will take control of Célia, with the exception of its agricultural supply business. The Célia Group and its nutritional subsidiaries employ a staff of 740. It has developed brands such as Chaussé aux Moines (cheese), Le Marin (butter), Picot (baby formula).
  • The Lactalis and Nestlé Groups have decided to create a common fresh dairy product subsidiary in Europe, called Lactalis Nestlé Produits Frais (LNPF), which will cover nine European countries : France, Belgium, Luxembourg, the UK, Ireland, Spain, Italy, Portugal and Switzerland.
  • Its complete range of fresh products will represent a total tonnage of 620,000 T for revenues of approximately €1.5bn through the following brands : Nestlé, La Laitière, Yoco, B'A, Bridélice and Sveltesse in France and Belgium; Ekabé in Luxembourg ; Ski and Munch Bunch in the UK, Longa Vida and Yoggi in Portugal ; La Lechera in Spain ; Fruttolo and Mio in Italy and Hirz in Switzerland.

    It is the second leading Group in Europe and will employ a staff of more than 3,000 individuals.
  • Acquisitions of Dukat, leader in Croatia on the fresh products market.
  • Purchases in Czech Republic, with Kunin and the dairy of Klatovy, in Ukraine with Fanni.
  • Acquisition of Mozzarella Fresca in the USA.
  • Buyout of Mama Luise in Spain.

2007

  • Diversification of the Group's activity in Poland with Obory, which produces milk drinks and drinking yoghurts.
  • Acquisition of Baër, the Swiss cheesemaker.
  • Strengthening the baby food business with Milupa-Nutricia France and clinical activity with the Beaubour society .

2009

  • Buyout of the Lubborn creamery in the United-Kingdom.

2010

  • 2010, « Lactalis' Spain year », with three strategic buyouts, covering the whole Spanish dairy market: Forlasa, leader of the Manchego DOP market, Puleva, national brand in the milk for consumption market, and Sanutri, a nutrition specialist.

    Moreover, reinforcement in Russia, with the intégration of the cheese factory Efremov, near Moscow, in the united-Kingdom, with Rachel's, n.2 in organic chilled dairy market in the country.

    At last, first factory in Oceania, with Lemnos (cheese) in Australia, in Melbourn. parmalat

2011

  • Lactalis became the world N.1 on the dairy market, after the acquisition of 83,3% of Parmalat, Italian dairy leader. Based in countries where Lactalis has few activity, this operation of external growth will open unprecedented opportunities for development.


To date, Groupe Lactalis employs 52,000 personnel and owns 198 industrial sites worldwide, which makes it:
The World’s 1st Leading Dairy Group | 15th largest agri-food Group worldwide | Europe’s Leading Milk Collector