DFA Garden City Processing Plant
July 26, 2018

Few Changes in Global Dairy Top 20; DFA, Dean Remain at #4 and #11

 |  By: Wyatt Bechtel

Dairy processors around the globe saw profitability increase in 2017 with the value for the top 20 dairy companies climbing 7.2% on the year in U.S. dollar terms. Those figures are according to RaboResearch’s latest Global Dairy Top 20 – A Shuffling of the Deck Chairs report, an annual ranking of the top 20 dairy processors globally.

“For the second consecutive year, there were no new entrants to the Dairy Top 20 list, with the $5 billion threshold difficult to achieve due to a scarcity of large acquisitions or mergers,” says Peter Paul Coppes, Senior Analyst for Dairy at Rabobank. “However, while the names have remained the same, the order shifted in 2017.”

Switzerland's Nestlé maintained its top overall ranking despite its monetary gap narrowing with the new #2 company, Lactalis. French processor Lactalis moved up to the second spot after swapping positions with fellow French company Danone. Lactalis’ growth was fueled by buying Danone’s former brand Stonyfield and another business called Siggi’s. Danone spun off Stonyfield last year after acquiring WhiteWave, reducing its stake in Yakult, and selling its holdings in the Al Safi Danone joint venture in Saudi Arabia.

Major U.S. dairy companies like Dairy Farmers of America, Dean Foods and Kraft Heinz saw little to no movement in the rankings. Out of those three companies, Kraft Heinz was then only one to move after dropping from #13 to #14.

However, the largest drop seen in the rankings was by U.S.-based Schreiber Foods who fell from #17 to #20. The ranking change wasn’t because Schreiber Foods fell behind in sales as the company still had $5 billion in estimated sales, an increase of $100 million. Competitors all at the end of the 20 had slightly larger increases to barely eclipse the $5 billion mark.

The full Global Dairy Top 20 rankings can be seen below:

20182017CompanyCountry of HeadquartersDairy Turnover in 2017, Billion $
23  ↑LactalisFrance19.9
32  ↓DanoneFrance17.6
44Dairy Farmers of AmericaUnited States14.7
56  ↑ FonterraNew Zealand13.7
65  ↓FrieslandCampinaNetherlands13.6
77Arla FoodsDenmark/Sweden11.7
89  ↑SaputoCanada10.8
98  ↓YiliChina9.9
1111Dean FoodsUnited States7.5
1315  ↑DMKGermany6.5
1413  ↓Kraft HeinzUnited States6.2
1514  ↓MeijiJapan5.8
1718  ↑SavenciaFrance5.5
1819  ↑MullerGermany5.1
1920  ↑AgropurCanada5.1
2017  ↓Schreiber FoodsUnited States5.0


Rabobank’s report acknowledges that merger-and-acquisition activity grew in the dairy sector because of cheap capital, but the deals were minuscule compared to other mergers-and-acquisitions in agriculture during 2017. The largest deals in the top 20 were Danone buying WhiteWave and Canada’s Saputo buying Australia’s Murray Goulburn. However, both of those deals had limited impact on the Global Dairy Top 20 rankings.

The last time a company went from unranked to entering the top 20 was in 2016 when Canada’s Agropur came in at #20. This year Agropur has moved one spot to #19 after staying at #20 last year.