Lactalis buys Egyptian dairy company Greenland from Americana Group

French dairy company Lactalis has acquired Cairo-headquartered Greenland Group for Food Industries from Americana Group. The acquisition has been made through Lactalis’ joint-venture operation, Lactalis-Halawa (which was founded in 1997). No details have been released on the deal value.

Lactalis-Halawa already distributes dairy products under the Président, Lactel, Teama, Nestlé and Celia brands in Egypt. It operates in the cheese, chilled dairy, milk (UHT and fresh), juices and infant nutrition categories.

Greenland has five dairy production sites in Egypt, employing 1,250 people. All its factories are in 10th of Ramadan City, which is 60km northeast of Cairo. Its main focus is cheese and the company also processes ghee, milk, juices and fresh dairy products such as sour cream and labne.

Americana Group, which is headquartered in the UAE, is a major player in food manufacturing and foodservice across the Middle East and North Africa. It owns several brands in the snacks, canned food, soft drinks and ready meals categories. It is also the Middle East franchise holder for several blue chip fast fast brands including KFC, Pizza Hut, Krispy Kreme, Hardee’s, Baskin Robbins, Olive Garden and Costa Coffee.

The move is a major step forward for Lactalis, whose physical presence in Africa is relatively limited, although its brands are available across much of francophone Africa. Apart from Egypt, it has a representative office in the Republic of Congo and an office in Togo. Sales of its infant nutrition products in Africa were badly dented by a contamination problem in late 2017 leading to a widespread product recall. In September 2018, Lactalis bought South African pharmaceutical company Aspen Pharmacare’s infant nutrition business for $940m. The acquisition was partly driven by a need to rebuild its presence in the infant nutrition sector.

By acquiring Greenland’s dairy operations – which have struggled to establish themselves as a core part of Americana’s growth strategy, Lactalis has gained a more secure foothold in North Africa and the Middle East. The acquisition comes amid considerable interest in the dairy sector in the Middle East and Africa. European dairy brands including Emmi, Savencia, FrieslandCampina and Arla have all been active in M&A and joint ventures in the North Africa in recent years. The latest news was in December 2018 Arla Foods acquired Mondeléz’s cheese business in the Middle East, including a modern cheese processing plant in Bahrain. In its media release for the acquisition, Arla revealed its sales in The Middle East and North Africa had doubled organically since 2010.