Dairy co-operatives Arla Foods of Scandinavia and Hansa-Milch Mecklenburg-Holstein of Germany are set to merge. A merger plan put forward by the boards of the two companies has now been approved by the members of the two co-operatives. The decision is being implemented with retrospective effect for the full 2011 financial year, and is enacted for January 1st 2011. The merger is not unexpected as both companies have already been co-operating successfully for many years.
Owned by 7,200 farmers in Denmark and Sweden, Arla Foods is the world’s fourth largest dairy group and operates successfully in both domestic and international markets. It is well known for its speciality cheeses such as BUKO, Castello and Hohlenkase, and for Lurpak butter. Owned by 1,200 dairy farmers, Hansa-Milch has enjoyed sustained success in northern Germany, and with its Hansano brand is one of the main providers of regionally-produced fresh dairy products such as milk, cream and quark.
The dairy business of Hansa-Milch, until now owned by the Hansa-Milch co-operative, will transfer to the ownership of Arla Foods under the merger arrangements. Manfred Remus, chairman of Hansa-Milch, who developed the merger plans together with the executive boards at Hansa-Milch and Arla Foods, will continue to head up the company with his team. In addition, consideration will be given in the coming months to the possibilities of expanding the Hansa-Milch plant in Upahl.
Hansa-Milch will now be known as Hansa Arla Milch. It remains a co-operative entity with its own members, and joins Arla Foods in that capacity. This means that the democratic structures are still preserved under the new entity of Hansa Arla Milch. In addition, the northern German dairy co-operative will have its own representatives on the boards and committees at Arla Foods.
Under the merger of the two co-operatives, the Hansa Arla Milch farmers are being given a milk purchase guarantee from Arla Foods with no time restriction. In addition, Arla is assuring Hansa-Milch of a milk payment price calculated on the same basis as is used for its Danish and Swedish members.
“In previous years, the price we paid for milk was generally higher than that given by Hansa-Milch. This means that Hansa Arla Milch members can expect a higher price in future,” points out Peder Tuborgh, chief executive of Arla Foods.
The Arla Foods strategy includes paying members the highest possible milk price. “To achieve this objective, we need to continue to grow in Europe, and particularly in the important German market,” explains Peder Tuborgh. “Together with Hansa Arla Milch, our aim is to be one of the top three German dairy companies.”
The merger still has to be approved by from the competition authorities.