European food conglomerates dominate Rabobank’s global dairy top 20 rankings, with 11 firms in the EU and UK included in the list. They were complemented by two each from China, the US and Canada, and one from New Zealand, India and Japan respectively. However, no Irish dairy processor made the grade.

France has two companies in the top three, with Lactilis 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 complemented by Dairy Farmers of America and Chinese company Yili Group, which had a turnover of $19.3bn and $18.2bn respectively.

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

The turnover calculations were based on 2021 financial results and mergers and acquisitions in the first half 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 5% in euro terms. The top performers in terms of turnover growth were Lactalis and Yili.

Privately owned Lactalis grew its turnover by $4bn on the back of the acquisition of Kraft Heinz’s natural cheese business in the US. Yili’s turnover growth of $3bn was driven by strong domestic sales in China and the purchase of IMF-producer Ausnutria.