European food conglomerates dominate Rabobank’s global dairy top 20 rankings, with 11 firms in the EU and UK included in the exclusive list.

However, no Irish dairy processor made the grade.

The 11 European food companies on the list were complimented by two each from China, the US and Canada, and one from New Zealand, India and Japan respectively.

France has two companies in the top three, with Lactalis leading the way on a turnover of $26.7bn, while Danone was ranked third with a turnover of $21bn. The French duo was split by Nestlé, with the Swiss firm’s turnover put at $21.3bn.

The top five was completed by Dairy Farmers of America and Chinese company Yilli. These concerns had turnovers of $19.3bn and $18.2bn respectively.

Rest of the top 10

The remainder of the top 10 was made up by Fonterra (New Zealand), Mengniu (China), Friesland-Campina (Netherlands), Arla Foods (Denmark-Sweden) and Saputo (Canada). The turnovers for these dairy processors ranged from $12bn to $14.8bn.

The firms listed from positions 11 to 15 were Unilever (Netherlands-UK), Savencia (France), Gujarat Co-operative Milk Marketing Federation Ltd (India), Sodiaal (France) and Meiji (Japan). The turnovers for these dairy concerns went from $5.9bn to $8.3bn.

The final five on the list included Agropur (Canada), Muller (Germany), DMK (Germany), Schreiber Foods (US) and Froneri (UK). The turnovers varied from $5bn to $5.8bn.


The turnover calculations were based on 2021 financial results, as well as mergers and acquisitions in the first six months of 2022.

The Rabobank survey found that the combined turnover of the companies included in the global dairy top 20 grew by 9.3% in dollar terms compared with last year and by 5% in euro terms.

The top performers in terms of turnover growth compared with the 2021 list were Lactalis and Yilli.

Lactalis, which is privately owned, grew its turnover by $4bn on the back of the acquisition of Kraft Heinz’s natural cheese business in the US. This was followed by a raft of acquisitions in Europe and Australia.

Although Chinese firm Yilli remained in fifth place on the list, the company grew its turnover by $3bn. This was driven by stronger domestic sales in China and the purchase of IMF-producer Ausnutria.