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Business Leader of the Week: Meet Emmanuel Besnier, CEO of dairy giant Lactalis

IFM_Emmanuel Besnier
According to Forbes, as of 2024, Emmanuel Besnier's net worth is around 2,500 crores USD

One of the biggest dairy companies in the world, Lactalis is based in Laval, France, and is well-known for its wide variety of dairy products and its global reach. Andre Besnier established the business in 1933 as a modest family business, but it has since expanded to become a major player in the dairy industry worldwide.

With production facilities and distribution networks spanning continents, Lactalis is active in more than 100 countries. A vast range of dairy products, including milk, cheese, butter, yoghurt, and other dairy-based drinks and desserts, are offered by the company.

Lactalis has grown significantly by making both calculated acquisitions and organic growth. The company has solidified its position in several international markets by acquiring well-known dairy brands over the years.

Among its noteworthy acquisitions are the 2011 purchase of the massive Italian dairy company Parmalat, which helped it establish a stronger presence in Europe, and the 2017 acquisition of the American cheese manufacturer Stonyfield Farm, which helped it expand its reach in the US market.

Lactalis has occasionally been the subject of criticism despite its widespread distribution and wide range of products. The business was involved in a significant scandal involving tainted baby formula in 2017, which resulted in recalls and harmed the business’s reputation. But Lactalis moved quickly to resolve the problem, investing in product safety and enforcing stronger quality control procedures to win back customer confidence.

Lactalis is dedicated to sustainability and environmental stewardship in addition to its commercial endeavours. To lessen its influence on the environment, the company has taken steps to optimise the use of energy and water in its production processes and to encourage ethical sourcing across its supply chain. Overall, Lactalis continues to be a major player in the global dairy market, with a constant focus on innovation, growth, and sustainability along with a dedication to providing consumers all over the world with high-quality dairy products.

The brain behind this successful venture is 53-year-old Emmanuel Besnier, a French heir and businessman, and is the chief executive officer (CEO), who has taken this company to such a great milestone.

    Who is Emmanuel Besnier?

  • Emmanuel Besnier was born on 18 September 1970 in Laval, Mayenne, France
  • He pursued his studies in a private school of Laval, the Roman Catholic Immaculate Conception, and then moved to Paris for higher studies at the Higher Institute of Management
  • After completing his graduation, Emmanuel Besnier turned towards his family business and started working in Madrid
  • He took over the company and became the CEO after his father died in 2000, and turned it into an amalgamation
  • In the year 2006, Emmanuel Besnier received the “Mayennais of the Year” award from the local Rotary Club
  • Every year his company donates around $230000 to the Laval Stadium through Groupe Lactalis
  • Emmanuel Besnier is a passionate football lover and donates EURO 200000 every year to the Francis Le Basser Football Stadium, Laval
    He’s been nicknamed ‘The Invisible Billionaire’
  • According to Forbes, as of 2024, Emmanuel Besnier’s net worth is around 2,500 crores USD

Despite Business Success, Lactalis Faces Hard Time

In March 2024, DKSH signed an exclusive distribution agreement with Lactalis. Under the pact, DKSH’s Business Unit Performance Materials will provide business development, marketing, sales, logistics, and distribution services for Lactalis’ pharma grade lactose for customers producing Finished Dosage Forms (FDFs), including tablets, pills, capsules, liquid solutions, among others in key markets like Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Thailand, Portugal, and Spain.

The development gives some respite to the dairy giant, who, recently, has been reportedly fined for engaging in “unfair” trading behaviour, after Coldiretti, the primary farmers’ organisation in Italy, filed a complaint against the venture.

Part of Italy’s Ministry of Agriculture, the Central Inspectorate of Quality Protection and Fraud Repression (ICQRF) has fined the dairy group 74,145 euros (USD 80,446). After ICQRF issued a summons, it was placed on the local Lactalis subsidiary company Italatte. Regarding the price paid to farmers for their milk supply, Coldiretti had claimed that the company was involved in “unfair practices.”

Lactalis announced that it “will appeal any sanctions that will be imposed.”

“The proposed contractual changes have allowed farmers to earn €40m, more than 10% than what initially stipulated with a price in line with the market,” the dairy company said, as reported by the JustFood website.

However, ICQRF said in its statement, “The Lactalis company had been accused of having unilaterally modified the contract with the farmers supplying milk, decreasing the recognised prices. It was also accused of having introduced a new index linked to the prices of European milk, which was not agreed upon and penalised Italian producers.”

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