Royal A-ware

News Dairy

A-ware expands further with acquisition in Belgium

Tuesday 12:00 pm - Klaas van der Horst

A-ware strengthens its presence in the Belgian dairy market further with the acquisition of family business The Dairy Food Group. This company, active in the Belgian provinces of Limburg, Brabant, and Antwerp, is purchased from the Nijs family. The product range mainly includes fresh dairy, quark, cream, and desserts.

The acquisition still requires formal approval from the European Commission. CEO Jan Anker is pleased with the announced acquisition and sees it as a strengthening of the company's position in its second home market. The companies' areas of operation complement each other. Therefore, there is logic in this step from a synergy perspective.

€300 million revenue
According to its own website, The Dairy Food Group is a private label producer with around 260 dairy farmers and over 200 million liters of milk. The company has about 400 employees and a revenue of €300 million in 2023. The milk is collected by the company's subsidiary, the Belgian Milk Company (BMC), and processed at the other 4 operating companies Limelco, Eurodesserts, Incopack, and Incorock. They operate from three locations in Zonhoven, Dilsem-Stokkem, and Beringen.

In recent years, A-ware has made a series of acquisitions in Belgium. It started in 2015 with the purchase of cream producer La Concorde near Brussels. In 2021, the acquisition of FrieslandCampina's milk powder factory in Aalter was completed, after which the company also attracted Belgian dairy farmers for the first time. In 2022, the acquisitions of family business Olympia in Herne and the former Hollebeekhoeve, now A-ware Kruibeke, followed.

An aerial photo of the production location of Incopack in Dilsen-Stokkem. 

For the dairy farmers supplying the factory in Aalter, A-ware Belgium developed its own milk pricing system, based on the one in the Netherlands. The former Olympia dairy farmers have been supplying A-ware Belgium since early 2024 according to this milk pricing system. CEO Jan Anker can only comment on how this will work for the dairy farmers of The Dairy Food Group after approval of the intended acquisition. For now, the current payment system will remain in place for them. Any potential changes in the system will first be discussed with the dairy farmers.

The relative position of Royal A-ware in the Belgian market remains unchanged by the new acquisition. The company remains the third largest dairy company, after LDA and Milcobel.

Growth agenda
In 2023, A-ware processed a total of 2.6 billion kilograms of milk in the Netherlands and Belgium. Production of mozzarella will start in North Spain next year. A factory acquired from Danone last year is being converted for this purpose. The recruitment of dairy farmers in North Spain will begin after the summer. Additionally, A-ware, together with SCE Epiim and Interfood in Estonia, developed a state-of-the-art dairy factory for cheddar. In Ireland, the cheese factory Kilkenny Cheese started production in early 2024, in which it has invested with Irish cooperative Tirlan. It will be officially opened in October.

Klaas van der Horst

Klaas van der Horst is a senior market specialist in dairy at DCA Market Intelligence. He also closely monitors developments in politics and agricultural policy.