Arla Foods
Arla Foods is a Swedish-Danish cooperative
A cooperative is a business organization owned and operated by a group of individuals for their mutual benefit...

 based in Århus, Denmark
Denmark is a Scandinavian country in Northern Europe. The countries of Denmark and Greenland, as well as the Faroe Islands, constitute the Kingdom of Denmark . It is the southernmost of the Nordic countries, southwest of Sweden and south of Norway, and bordered to the south by Germany. Denmark...

, and the largest producer of dairy
A dairy is a business enterprise established for the harvesting of animal milk—mostly from cows or goats, but also from buffalo, sheep, horses or camels —for human consumption. A dairy is typically located on a dedicated dairy farm or section of a multi-purpose farm that is concerned...

 products in Scandinavia
Scandinavia is a cultural, historical and ethno-linguistic region in northern Europe that includes the three kingdoms of Denmark, Norway and Sweden, characterized by their common ethno-cultural heritage and language. Modern Norway and Sweden proper are situated on the Scandinavian Peninsula,...

. Arla Foods was formed as the result of a merger between the Swedish
Sweden , officially the Kingdom of Sweden , is a Nordic country on the Scandinavian Peninsula in Northern Europe. Sweden borders with Norway and Finland and is connected to Denmark by a bridge-tunnel across the Öresund....

 dairy cooperative Arla and the Danish dairy company MD Foods on 17 April 2000.

Arla Foods is the seventh largest dairy company in the world measured by turnover. Among the cooperative dairy companies Arla is the third largest in the world. At the start of 2010, 7,625 Danish and Swedish cooperative members owned the cooperative.

Arla Foods has three major brands: Arla, Lurpak and Castello that are sold worldwide. The Arla Brand is both a co-operative brand and a brand across all product categories. Lurpak is the leading brand for butter and spreads and Castello is the first-class cheese brand, incl. blue cheese and yellow cheese. The name Arla derives from the same word as the English word "early" and is an archaic Swedish term for "early (in the morning)".


The Swedish "Arla ekonomisk förening" and the "Danish MD Foods" became one company, "Arla Foods amba" in 2000. The two dairy companies share a similar history:

History of Arla Foods in Sweden from 1881 to 1999

1881: The first co-operative dairy is established at Stora Arla Gård in Västmanland under the name of Arla Mejeriförening.

1915: Arla’s history begins when Landtmännens Mjölkförsäljningsförening is formed. The name is later changed to Mjölkcentralen (MC). Subsequent years see a substantial number of larger and smaller dairies merging with Mjölkcentralen and in connection with a number of mergers in the early 1970s, it is proposed that the company should have a new, common name.

1945: Mjölkcentralen acquires NEN’s village dairies.

1949: The MC cow, designed by Mjölkcentralen’s ad-man, Karl Thunberg, is registered as a trademark

1959: The dairy associations in the county of Skaraborg merge with Mjölkcentralen.

1971: Mjölkcentralen amalgamates with Lantbrukarnas Mjölkcentralen in Gothenburg, Sydöstmejerier and the Őrebro area’s dairy association begins.

1974: Registration of the name Mjölkcentralen Arla.

1975: Mjölkcentralen changes name to Arla and acquires its new logo: the Arla Cow.

1992: Arla takes a stake in the Copenhagen-based dairy, Enigheden, owned by Kløver Mælk of Denmark.

1999: Arla has 65% of the Swedish milk production.

History of Arla Foods in Denmark from 1882 to 1999

1882: The first co-operative in Denmark is established in Hjedding. In the following decades, the number of co-operative dairies rises dramatically.

1945: There are 1,650 co-operative dairies in Denmark

1963: The concept of a nationwide dairy is aired for the first time.

1970: Mejeriselskabet Danmark (MD) is established on October 1 by four dairy companies and three individual dairies. The company starts out with a milk volume of 384 million kg.

1970s and 1980s: Various dairies and dairy companies across Denmark join Mejeriselskabet Denmark through mergers or acquisitions.

1978/79: The volume of milk exceeds 1 billion kg for the first time.

1988: The company changes name to the more international MD Foods.

1989: MD Foods International A/S is formed for the purpose of acquiring dairies abroad.

1990: MD Foods International acquires the UK’s fifth largest dairy company, Associated Fresh Foods.

1992: MD Foods and Denmark’s second largest dairy company, Kløver Mælk, sign a financially binding cooperation agreement. MD Foods International makes further acqui-sitions in the UK.

1996: There are 15 cooperative dairies left in Denmark, including MD Foods.

1999: MD Foods and Kløver Mælk merge to become MD Foods, gaining 90% of the Danish milk production.

Arla Foods' history from 2000 and forward
The two companies behind Arla Foods amba, is the Danish MD Foods and the Swedish Arla

The founding of Arla Foods

1995: MD Foods and Arla begin to co-operate

1999: Plans for a merger between Arla and MD Foods take shape and during the au-tumn, the owners – the cooperative members, agree to the proposal and MD Foods and Arla announce their merger.

2000: Arla Foods amba is formed on April 17

2001: On June 27, Arla Foods publishes a new five-year strategy plan which means the closure of 17 dairies in Denmark and Sweden and the redundancies of approx. 1,000 people.

2002: The cooperative members in Hellevad Omegns Andelsmejeri agree (63 votes for and 50 against) to a merger with Arla Foods with effect from 30 September 2002.

2004: On 2 November, Arla Foods’ Canadian subsidiary agrees to buy the Canadian cheese importer and producer, National Cheese Company Ltd.

2005: The planned merger between Arla Foods and the Dutch Campina
Campina (company)
FrieslandCampina is a Dutch dairy cooperative. It is the result of the merge between Royal Friesland Foods and Campina. Main brands include Friesche Vlag, Chocomel, Fristi, Dutch lady, Appelsientje, Milner, Campina, Landliebe, Optiwell and Mona.-History:...

 break down in April and Arla’s CEO Åke Modig leaves the company. Peder Tuborgh is appointed CEO in June.

2005: On August 26, Arla Foods and the Chinese dairy company, China Mengniu Dairy Company, begin a partnership for the production of milk powder in the Chinese market.

2006: On January 27, Arla Foods buys the speciality dairy, White Clover Dairy in Wisconsin, USA. The purchase of Wisconsin
Wisconsin is a U.S. state located in the north-central United States and is part of the Midwest. It is bordered by Minnesota to the west, Iowa to the southwest, Illinois to the south, Lake Michigan to the east, Michigan to the northeast, and Lake Superior to the north. Wisconsin's capital is...

-based White Clover Dairy, a company with 170 employees, on 26 January 2006, provided direct access to the U.S.
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 market (White Clover had produced Arla products under license since 1998).

2006: On June 26, Arla Foods announces the purchase of the privately owned dairy Tholstrup Cheese. The purchase gives impetus to Arla Foods’ strategy to strengthen its international brands.

2006: On November 8, Arla Foods announces the purchase of 30 per cent of the shares in the Finnish dairy company, Ingman Foods Oy Ab. The purchase is approved by the EU on January 16, 2007.

2007: On March 27, Arla Foods merges with Express Dairies in the UK. The merger creates the UK’s leading supplier of dairy products under the name of Arla Foods UK plc.

2008: Production from the Swedish fruit juice factory in Alingsås is relocated to Rynkeby Foods in Ringe during the first half of 2008.

2008: On January 8, Arla Foods acquires the remaining 50 per cent of the shares in Cocio Chokolademælk A/S.

2008: UK farmers become part-owners of Arla Foods UK. To give the British farmers in the supplier group, Arla Foods Milk Partnership (AFMP) joint ownership of Arla Foods’ UK subsidiary, Arla Foods UK, 10,000 Swedish, Danish and UK milk producers unite in a new joint venture which, from May 14, 2008, holds 7 per cent of Arla Foods UK.

2008: On July 1, Arla Foods acquires Borup Andelsmejeri in North Zealand.

2008: Arla Foods acquires the remaining 70 per cent of the shares in the Finnish Arla Ingman Oy AB which becomes a fully owned subsidiary.

2009: Hirtshals Co-operative Dairy joins Arla

2009: Authorities approve: Arla Foods to buy Fresh Nijkerk from FrieslandCampina

2011: Authorities approve: Arla Foods merger with German dairy company Hansa Milch


Arla have identified six core markets where they will build strong positions within liquid milk as well as a full range of dairy products for the retail sector. The six markets are Sweden, The UK, Denmark, Finland, The Netherlands and Germany.

Growth markets:
Russia, Poland, USA, China and Middle East and North Africa. Focus is on investing in a sustainable platform for growth, the full roll-out of category leadership positions and boosting growth through merger and acquisitions. These markets will also be tasked with setting up a local plan for the global brands Lurpak and Castello.

Value markets: Canada, Spain, Greece, Brazil, Norway and export markets. Arla's focus is on maximizing profits and moving milk from bulk to value added products, full-roll out of category leadership positions and further develop through potential partners with shared interests.

Middle East boycott over Muhammad cartoons

Arla's sales were seriously affected by a boycott of Danish products in the Middle East in 2006. Transnational anger among Muslims over satirical cartoons of Muhammed was the immediate cause of this. After the Danish government refused to condemn the cartoons or meet with eleven concerned ambassadors from Muslim nations, a boycott was organized, starting in Saudi Arabia and spreading across the Middle East. The Middle East is Arla's largest market outside of Europe.

On 3 February 2006, the company said that sales in the Middle East had stopped completely, costing the company US$2 million a day. Soon after the boycott began to affect Arla's sales, the Danish government met with Muslim ambassadors, the newspaper issued apologetic statements. Unfortunately for Arla, the boycott continued undiminished for some time.

In March 2006, Arla took out full-page advertising in Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia , commonly known in British English as Saudi Arabia and in Arabic as as-Sa‘ūdiyyah , is the largest state in Western Asia by land area, constituting the bulk of the Arabian Peninsula, and the second-largest in the Arab World...

, apologizing for the cartoons and indicating Arla's great respect for Islam in the country. This raised controversy back in Denmark, where women's organizations and some Danish politicians criticized Arla, and called on Danish women to boycott Arla's products in Denmark.

In April 2006, the company said that its products are being placed back in stores in the Middle East. Before the boycott, it supplied stores in the area. It announced that many of its largest clients in Saudi Arabia would start selling its butter and cheese on 8 April. Arla has started sponsoring humanitarian causes in the Middle East in order to reduce bad feelings from consumers.

2008 Chinese milk scandal

Arla Foods has a joint venture company Arla Mengniu, in association with Mengniu
China Mengniu Dairy Company Limited is a manufacturing and distribution company of dairy products and ice cream in the People's Republic of China...

, one of the companies involved in the 2008 Chinese milk scandal
2008 Chinese milk scandal
The 2008 Chinese milk scandal was a food safety incident in the People's Republic of China, involving milk and infant formula, and other food materials and components, adulterated with melamine....

 involving the addition of melamine
Melamine is an organic base and a trimer of cyanamide, with a 1,3,5-triazine skeleton. Like cyanamide, it contains 66% nitrogen by mass and, if mixed with resins, has fire retardant properties due to its release of nitrogen gas when burned or charred, and has several other industrial uses....

to milk products.

Executive director Jais Valeur stated that: "We are part of this [crisis] – just as we're a part of the solution."
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