Yoplait Is Flying a French Flag Once Again

Yoplait Is Flying a French Flag Once Again

Sodiaal, the largest French dairy cooperative, came to terms with the American General Mills to take Yoplait’s European activities back.

Yoplait is returning to its roots: Sodiaal is going to take European operations back for the “Little Flower” brand and its 1,250 employees in the company’s three original plants, in Le Mans (Sarthe), Vienne (Isère) and Monéteau (Yonne).

In 2002, Sodiaal, the largest French – and third-largest European – dairy cooperative had sold 51% of that activity to the private-equity firm PAI, which then sold it to the American food giant General Mills.

The recent acquisition will enable the Sodiaal Group, which also owns the Candia and Entremont brands to break into France’s Top 10 agri-food businesses. Yoplait – founded in 1965 when livestock farmers decided to merge six cooperatives – is the brand with the second-largest fresh dairy sales in the world, thanks to such well-known brands as Perle de Lait, Panier de Yoplait, Yop, Petits Filous, Câlin and others.

– National cultural heritage brand

Once the deal is approved by the Bureau of Competition, Sodiaal – which collected 4.7 billion liters (1.25 billion gallons) of milk for €5,098 billion in revenue in 2019 – will guide sales of Yoplait in Europe, for annual revenue of €660 million, 70% of which come from France.

“We have entered into exclusive negotiations with General Mills to recover Yoplait. The project should be finalized by late 2021,”

according to Damien Lacombe, the Chair of Sodiaal, which unites over 17,600 members on more than 10,500 farms. “The Little Flower brand, which is truly part of France’s cultural heritage, is our staff and members’ pride and joy. It will contribute to guaranteeing our members’ milk pick-ups for the long term.”

Sodiaal has excellent timing, since 2020 was a very profitable year for France’s dairy-products market. After years of decline, milk consumption had an upswing in France: it actually shot up by 5% in 2020, according to a study by the Idele Livestock Farming Institute.

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