Global dairy company Arla Foods today announced a merger with Belgium-based Walhorn. The move brings in Arla more dairy farmers in Belgium and Germany and, for the first time, suppliers in the Netherlands.

Following the merger, Arla will have 13,500 members. For the first time, the co-operative will have members in the Netherlands, resulting in Arla having suppliers in seven different northern European countries.The decision comes one-and-a-half months after the two co-operatives’ board of directors presented a proposal to merger which led to a debate in the two owner groups.

“We are delighted to welcome the new dairy farmers to our group of owners,” says Åke Hantoft, Chairman of Arla Foods.

“Arla is a bigger business than Walhorn, but we have exactly the same desire to be part of a cooperative that enables us to grow and develop our farms. Some of Walhorn’s owners are already neighbours of Arla farmers so, in every way, it feels like a natural step to merge with our colleagues at Walhorn,” says Åke Hantoft.

Arla’s CEO Peder Tuborgh said he is delighted to welcome the new members: “We see this merger as a vote of confidence on the part of Walhorn’s dairy farmers and we are convinced that the merger will lead to a mutually beneficial partnership. At Arla, we have made a point in recent years of informing our members that they are the very core of Arla’s business foundation and that we are ready to buy all the milk they are able to produce – also when European milk quotas disappear. This message has been warmly received by Walhorn’s owners.”

The merger will mainly impact Arla’s access to raw milk in Germany and Belgium and the dairies in Pronsfeld, Germany and Nijkerk in the Netherlands. The merger, which must now be approved by the national competition authorities, is expected to go ahead in the summer.

Facts about Arla

  • A co-operative owned by 13,500 milk producers (incl. Walhorn’s 795 dairy farmers) in seven different countries: the UK, Sweden, Denmark, Germany, Belgium, Luxembourg and now, as a result of the merger – the Netherlands.
  • Arla’s core markets are the UK, Sweden, Germany, Denmark, Finland and the Netherlands.
  • In 2013, Arla’s worldwide sales of dairy products to customers and consumers totalled DKK 73.6bn.

Facts about Walhorn EGM

  • A co-operative owned by 795 dairy farmers in Belgium (426), Germany (317) and the Netherlands (52).
  • The company has a turnover of €239m.
  • Walhorn EGM collects milk from its members and sells it to the dairy Walhorn AG, which Walhorn EGM jointly owns with the privately owned dairy company Lactalis.
  • EGM’s collaboration with the dairy will remain unchanged following the merger.