The history of Lactalis in Ukraine began with establishment of the French-Ukrainian Joint Venture (on the basis of Mykolaiv City Dairy Plant) for food casein and butter production on February 15, 1996. As soon as in July 1996, the first product under the international Président brand was launched in Ukraine – butter made from cream skimmed with special bacterial culture, with the unique for the country technology and on the equipment imported from France.
The signing of the Joint Venture agreement was preceded by several years of business negotiations. They were started in 1993, when the French company Besnier* was considering the food casein production project in Mykolaiv region, Ukraine, proposed by the Ukrainian party. Despite the 1990s crisis in Ukraine, one of the largest French dairy producers believed in the potential of the country and became the first foreign investor in the Ukrainian dairy industry.
Since the moment of its foundation, the Lactalis-Ukraine has been bringing the best French practices of milk collecting and processing to Ukraine. In particular, we were the first company in the country that organized milk collecting centers in villages equipped with coolers and mini-laboratories for the procurements of raw materials. This allowed us to solve the major problem of those times – lack of raw materials.
The next important milestone in the company development was technical re-equipment of the manufacturing site and expansion of the product range started in 1998. Just after two years, more than 150 products were manufactured at the site. In addition to milk, kefir, fermented baked milk, sour cream and butter, the new products appeared, such as yogurt, as well as cottage cheese desserts produced at a new manufacturing shop opened in 2000. This manufacturing shop featured state-of-the-art equipment that had no analogues in Ukraine at that time. A family pack for sour cream and desserts – 400 g plastic cup – became another company’s innovation in the market in 2000.
*Besnier was renamed into Lactalis in 1999.
The company’s brands are starting to gain consumer loyalty throughout the country; regional offices Lactalis-Ukraine are being opened in the largest cities – Kyiv, Lviv, Dnipro, Donetsk, Odesa, and Simferopol.
The new launches help support the consumer interest. In 2003 TM Président presents the unique for the market cheese desserts with chocolate coating, as well as cottage cheese “Tvorozhna Tradytsiya” – an innovative product with the taste of traditional cottage cheese that can be consumed without heat treatment. In 2004, the Lactalis Groupe invests funds in acquisition of Food Master company that owns Lactonia and Belosvit brands on the territory of Ukraine. The production of functional yoghurts Lactonium Imun+ was started under the new brand Dolce TM, as well as baked pudding “Zapikanka” under the same brand, the first product of such kind in the local market manufactured in an industrial way.
Entry to the all-Ukrainian market has stimulated the company to search for the new approaches to product promotion. The international marketing agency DDB was invited to help in positioning the brands and creating the first advertising campaigns. The first TV commercial for sour cream (TM Président) was made in Ukraine, and the active advertising support of products on television was initiated.
High growth rates and the best quality of the company’s products were achieved by further upgrading of Mykolaiv plant. In particular, 100% of washing equipment had been replaced by the new one to meet the microbiological specifications. This measure allowed to completely exclude the influence of the human factor on microbiological parameters.
By the time of its 10th anniversary celebrated in 2006, Lactalis-Ukraine had become the leader in the market of the country in such categories as “sour cream in a cup”, “cottage cheese”, and “cottage cheese desserts”. In the same year, sour cream and butter under TM Président have received their first All-Ukrainian award “Choice of The Year”.
Despite the global economic crisis in 2008, the company managed to make another step in its development.
Recognizing that the key to leadership is in increasing production capacity and compliance with the international quality standards, Groupe Lactalis buys another plant in Ukraine in October 2007 – OJSC Milk House in Pavlohrad, one of the largest local manufacturer of chocolate glazed curd snacks and UHT Milk under the brand Fanny. Lactalis focuses on re-equipping of the new plant in accordance with the European requirements to product quality.
In 2010, the company introduced a certified system of food product quality and safety management in accordance with ISO HACCP standards; the standard of ISO 9001:2008 was implemented in both plants of Lactalis-Ukraine. To effectively oppose unfair competition and frequent cases of falsification in the dairy market, Lactalis-Ukraine is cooperating with field-specific national and international associations, such as the European Business Association (ЕВА) and the American Chamber of Commerce (ACC).
At the same time, the company pays much attention to staff development: the best management practices are introduced, numerous advanced professional trainings are initiated, some of them abroad, Key Performance Indicators (КРІs) are implemented, training for employees is started within the project “LEAN – cost-saving manufacturing”.
The 15th anniversary of Lactalis-Ukraine was marked with the emergence of a new product – milk under the international brand Lactel in 2011, as well as the leading positions in the categories “desserts”, “cottage cheese” and “sour cream in a cup” in the Ukrainian market. International markets are being expanded.
The products manufactured by Lactalis-Ukraine are gaining consumer loyalty abroad, including Russia, Moldova, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Georgia, and the UAE. In January 2016, the company’s manufacturing sites were among the first plants in Ukraine to get the authorization for export of their products to the European Union. Implementation and certification of the integrated management system according to ISO 9001:2009 and ISO 22000:2005 standards for ensuring high quality of products and food safety contributed to expansion of the company to the international markets.
In 2013, a new brand Loko Moko was added to the product portfolio of the company aimed at the youngest consumers of dairy products. Milk, yoghurts, curd snacks and desserts for children under TM Loko Moko, enriched with calcium, vitamin D3 and Omega 3 acids, soon gained consumer love not only in Ukraine but also in the foreign countries.
In 2014-2015, due to the conflict in the East of Ukraine, as well as economic and political instability in the country, Lactalis-Ukraine had to quickly make a number of strategic decisions to maintain high quality of our products and to retain consumer loyalty. The actions taken allowed the company to overcome this difficult period with minimal losses and remain true to its basic principles – stable high quality of products, innovations, and social guarantees for the employees.
As a socially responsible company, Lactalis-Ukraine participates in many important projects. It sponsors the All-Ukrainian Conference on quality and safety of dairy products, supports the Days of Europe in Ukraine. In 2013, together with the largest dairy manufacturers of the country and the government, the company became the initiator of a large informational and educational project “3 Dairy Products Every Day” in Ukraine.
Since the company was granted the authorization for export of its products to the European Union in 2016, it rapidly begun to win the international market. Today Lactalis-Ukraine products are marketed in more than 25 countries of the world. In 2017 and 2018, the company became number one among the Ukrainian producers which export dairy products to the end user and continues to maintain a leader position.
As so, the company is actively expanding the product range: only in 2018, Lactalis-Ukraine launched 11 new products. Manufacturing of ultra-pasteurized milk with vitamins under TM Loko Moko was initiated; the new Italian collection of Dolce desserts with stracciatella was presented – classic Italian desserts with chocolate crumbs; Lactonium Fit+ curd snacks with high protein content, as well as Lactonium Imun+, sour milk drink enriched with vitamin C, were launched. TM Président offered the consumers a ready-made solution for breakfast or a healthy snack – “Tvorozhnyi Snidanok”, cottage cheese with sour cream and salt, and also cottage cheese in a convenient package with transparent sidewalls to make it possible for the consumer to see the product, and a creamy cheese with vegetable fillers. The novelty that has no analogues in the Ukrainian market – creamy cheese with fillers in plastic cups – appeared in the product line of TM Fanny.
Keeping the focus on the perfect quality and product innovations, Lactalis-Ukraine continues its sustainable development and begins a new stage in its history of success at the turn of the decade.