Lactalis in the sights of the Italian government

Faced with the French dairy group Lactalis, the Italian government is going on the offensive. On Monday February 26, the Ministry of Agriculture fined him 74,000 euros. Reason: unfair practices, concerning a reduction deemed unilateral in the price of milk imposed in 2023 on Italian producers already penalized by the increase in the cost of energy.

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This sentence is a first measure, the Italian Minister of Agriculture, Francesco Lollobrigida, having promised, Saturday February 24, during a public meeting, the opening of one hundred administrative procedures against the group, accused of having abused its dominant position, by the inspection of the repression of fraud in agri-food products.

Lactalis is, in fact, the leading buyer in the sector, accounting for 11.7% of national production. Its footprint is expanding elsewhere in the country. The French giant, which owns several emblematic Italian brands such as Parmalat and Galbani, has in fact planned an investment of 160 million euros in Italy for the years 2023 and 2024, with the opening of a headquarters in Milan.

Agricultural sovereignty

“Lactalis must respect the rules of this nation (…)we gave a signal of strength”, launched Mr. Lollobrigida, a member of the close circle of the president of the national-conservative council, Giorgia Meloni, whose agricultural and food sovereignty is one of the favorite political themes. The action he is taking at the Lactalis meeting also extends a campaign undertaken against the French milk giant by the powerful agricultural federation Coldiretti, whose positions the ministry’s policies often reflect, as was the case at the end of 2023 with the ban on the production and sale of cellular meat.

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In September, Coldiretti had already started to denounce the unfair practices of Lactalis. The federation thus described, through the voice of its president, Ettore Prandini, Mr. Lollobrigida’s announcement as the “first historic victory in a battle over milk prices which will be long and difficult”.

Coldiretti also demands that Lactalis pay to breeders the shortfall caused by the modification of prices by the multinational with which it had concluded an agreement in January 2023. A negotiation to take into account the evolution of the price in Europe had been planned for the April of the same year. “Many agricultural companies fear denouncing the illicit practices of large industrial groups and large distribution chains”, said Mr. Prandini. “This is why Coldiretti guarantees anonymity to individual companies and offers greater contractual power. We started with milk and we also work for all other sectors. » The federation, however, wants to be open to negotiation, including with Lactalis.

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