Fonterra has slipped from third to fourth place in the world’s «who’s who» of dairy companies in Rabobank’s latest survey of the revenues of global milk heavyweights.
Top of the heap is Nestle of Switzerland with US$25.9 billion (NZ$32.4b) revenue in 2011, followed by France’s Danone with US$19.5 billion and Lactalis, also of France, with US$18.8 billion.
Fonterra – New Zealand’s biggest company and the world’s biggest dairy exporter, which earns around 25 per cent of the country’s export returns- comes in fourth with US$15.7 billion. It has been pushed out of third place by Lactalis.
FrieslandCampina of the Netherlands, the company that new Fonterra chief executive Theo Spierings led the creation of, is fifth with US$13.4 billion.
Rabobank’s top 20 list remains dominated by OECD countries. The respective positions of Nestle and Danone are unchanged from last year, and 18 of the 20 companies are the same as 12 months prior.
But Rabobank said there are some significant changes.
The most notable shift at the top end is the continued rise of Lactalis. With ongoing sales growth and the acquisition of Parmalat and Skanemejerier, it has moved into third spot and is now within striking distance of Danone, said Rabobank.
But the biggest strides up the ladder were made by the Chinese giants.
Having entered the top-20 for the first time in 2010, Yili moved up four places to 15th and Mengnui eased up two places to 16th, riding domestic market growth, the bank said.
But despite the rise of the Chinese, the top-20 list remains dominated by companies based in the OECD. The headquarters for 18 of the 20 are in New Zealand, the EU, North America and Japan.
Big challenges face the world’s largest dairy companies as growth slows in traditional dairy markets in the next five years, as the industry battles economic and demographic headwinds, already high dairy consumption, overweight consumers and concerns over dairy product cost, Rabobank said.