100s of titles, one news app for just $10 a month.
Dive Deeper:
Fetco hits out at plans for transaction tax on stock trades
The Federation of Thai Capital Market Organizations (Fetco) has urged the Finance Ministry to abandon a proposal to collect a…
Europe's farmers stir up biogas to offset Russian energy
In lush fields southwest of Paris, farmers are joining Europe’s fight to free itself from Russian gas
Coops revving up social economy
The cooperative movement in the State has grown into a large institutional base that has helped influence and transform most…
Food prices ease slightly in April after record surge, U.N. agency says
World food prices eased slightly in April after hitting a record high in March, but global food security remained a…
One subscription that gives you access to news from hundreds of sites
The timeless world of Uncle Joe's - the tiny Greater Manchester company whose Mint Balls have gone global
"Every sweet produced by Uncle Joe's is made downstairs in the factory, with the production of the sweet itself taking…
GTG unveils hemp-based applications
Golden Triangle Group (GTG) has launched several hemp-based balms to serve consumers who are interested in the medical benefits of…
Get all your news in one place
Latest World news:
Up to 100 Ukraine troops could be dying in Donbas each day, says Zelenskiy
President gives insight into country’s casualties, as Luhansk governor says Russia using ‘scorched-earth’ tactics
Read news from The Economist, FT, Bloomberg and more, with one subscription
Learn More
No Iran nuclear deal ‘worse’ than even a bad one: Israel sources
Failure to revive Iran’s nuclear accord poses much more danger even than ‘a bad’ deal, Israeli intelligence sources say.
Ahmed Almulla: Cinematic Production is Slowing Down Everywhere, Except in Saudi Arabia and China
The story of Saudi cinema cannot be told without referring to the Saudi Film Festival, which has been at the…
Capitol attack panel to hold six public hearings as it aims to show how Trump broke law
Panel aims to publicly outline the potentially unlawful schemes that tried to keep the former president in office despite his…
Zelenskyy Urges 'Maximum' Sanctions on Russia in Davos Talk
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy called for “maximum” sanctions against Russia during a virtual speech on the first day of the…
From analysis to good news, read the world’s best news in one place
Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe says UK official witnessed her signing false confession to secure Iran release
British-Iranian says she expects Tehran to use it against her in the future
Will Texas pick a progressive or anti-abortion Democrat in heated runoff?
The race between Henry Cuellar and Jessica Cisneros for Congress will answer a key question: is the ‘Democratic machine’ still…

Yogurt maker Lactalis betting on US appetite

By Juliette MICHEL
Stonyfield Farm's organic yogurts for babies have proven popular, and the company aims to build a second assembly line for the product this year. ©AFP

North Londonderry (United States) (AFP) - French dairy giant Lactalis is betting big on North America, adapting to local preferences to attract consumers while it manages country-specific issues, such as the extreme volatility of US milk prices.

On the new production line at Stonyfield Farm in Londonderry, New Hampshire, a Lactalis subsidiary since 2017, 800,000 yogurts are pumped out every week.

The organic brand is seeing strong demand for its products aimed at babies and children, so Stonyfield plans to build a second production line for them this year.

To nibble at US market share in the yogurt sector, where Lactalis is behind Danone, Chobani and Yoplait, the company has also adopted targeted strategies.

Unlike Europeans, who often eat yogurt at the end of a meal, Americans "have yogurt for breakfast or as a snack," said Esteve Torrens, Stonyfield's CEO.

"So the yogurts must be more nutritious, and in larger portions," he adds, noting that individual cups in the US market generally weigh 170 grams, compared to just 125 grams in France.

The company also is monitoring changes in taste, like the thick, high-protein and low-sugar Icelandic yogurts from the Siggi's brand, acquired by Lactalis in 2018.

"When I came to the United States as a student, a lot of foods were full of sugar," founder Siggi Hilmarsson recalls, noting that the best-selling yogurt at the time contained proportionally more sugar than a soda.

He introduced Icelandic skyr to the American market in 2006, but sales really took off in 2012 and 2013 when "sugar replaced fat as public enemy number one in healthy eating," he said.

Driver shortage

He decided to sell his business four years ago to Lactalis in order to promote his yogurt in other countries.The brand is now available in France, Australia, Canada and South Korea.

With Siggi's and Stonyfield, as well the natural, specialty and organic cheeses acquired from Kraft in 2021, and the labne and other dairy products from Karoun integrated into its portfolio in 2017, the United States will become Lactalis' largest market this year after France. 

It is just ahead of Canada where the group, with an annual turnover of 22 billion euros, has grown in recent years, especially after buying Ultima Foods.

The firm relies on its experience in the sector and its global reach to relaunch products whose financial performance no longer satisfied their former owners, and to expand some promising brands.

Most of the new machines installed at the Stonyfield production site come from Europe "because we have historical relations with our suppliers and they know what we need," production manager Mathieu Le Duey told reporters during a tour of the plant.

A private company founded in Laval, France in 1933 and still controlled by the Besnier family, Lactalis first entered the North American market when it opened an import-export office in the early 1980s to introduce French products.

The group has expanded through various acquisitions and now has 30 sites and 7,400 employees in Canada and the United States.

More recently it has had to grapple with issues particular to the American market, including labor shortages and volatile dairy prices, which are based on trading on the Chicago exchange.

"For two years, it's been hellish.We can't find carriers because they have trouble finding drivers," said Gilles Meziere, the group's North America chief executive.

"We have very high turnover rates in our factories," sometimes forcing the temporary suspension of production lines, he adds. 

At the Stonyfield factory, the group "had to bring in executives for a day because we couldn't put the products in the boxes."

What is inkl?
The world’s most important news, from 100+ trusted global sources, in one place.
Morning Edition
Your daily
news overview

Morning Edition ensures you start your day well informed.

No paywalls, no clickbait, no ads
Enjoy beautiful reading

Content is only half the story. The world's best news experience is free from distraction: ad-free, clickbait-free, and beautifully designed.

Expert Curation
The news you need to know

Stories are ranked by proprietary algorithms based on importance and curated by real news journalists to ensure that you receive the most important stories as they break.

Dive Deeper:
Fetco hits out at plans for transaction tax on stock trades
The Federation of Thai Capital Market Organizations (Fetco) has urged the Finance Ministry to abandon a proposal to collect a…
Europe's farmers stir up biogas to offset Russian energy
In lush fields southwest of Paris, farmers are joining Europe’s fight to free itself from Russian gas
Coops revving up social economy
The cooperative movement in the State has grown into a large institutional base that has helped influence and transform most…
Food prices ease slightly in April after record surge, U.N. agency says
World food prices eased slightly in April after hitting a record high in March, but global food security remained a…
One subscription that gives you access to news from hundreds of sites
The timeless world of Uncle Joe's - the tiny Greater Manchester company whose Mint Balls have gone global
"Every sweet produced by Uncle Joe's is made downstairs in the factory, with the production of the sweet itself taking…
GTG unveils hemp-based applications
Golden Triangle Group (GTG) has launched several hemp-based balms to serve consumers who are interested in the medical benefits of…
Get all your news in one place