Although he arrived in the country
in 2015 for having bought a company in Mexico that had assets in South America, after 7 years of operations,
the dairy giant Lactalis decided to close everything in Argentina
and bet on Brazil for now.
The French-based company, which owns the
Parmalat and Président
brands , among others, had taken over the
La Mucca cheese factory
, located in the town of Díaz, in Santa Fe.
That business was shrinking and finally at the end of last year Lactalis sold the plant in which some 85 people worked to
"a group from Rosario", whose name
they prefer not to divulge
close to the selling firm
and it did not transcend in the sector, although it would not be linked to the dairy industry.
In addition to production activities, Lactalis had offices in Buenos Aires from which it managed the other leg of the business - the importation of its French flagship products - which will also close at the end of March "for an indefinite period."
After selling the Santa Fe plant, the French group had tried to maintain the business with
export agreements with third parties
that would allow them to obtain the dollars to be able to import, amid official restrictions.
However, this project that was launched between October and February
did not prosper
and, finally, the departure was decided.
did not even want to leave a distributor in the country
to sell its products, as happened with companies that decide to stop having a direct presence in a market, such as Nike or Edding.
His decision may have been driven by the little presence he had in Argentina compared to his business in Brazil, for example, where after the purchase of DPA, a joint venture between Nestlé and Fonterra, it became the dairy company at the end of 2022
. number one
in the neighboring country, where it already had an operation, with almost 11,000 employees.
In Brazil it has 23 of its 266 plants, distributed in 51 countries.
they rank third
in the dairy sector.
According to experts in the sector, Lactalis had a small size in Argentina for what the company was in the world and had a long history of looking for alternatives to grow.
One of the options, for example, was her attempt to stay with SanCor: in 2005 she was one of those interested in the operation of the cooperative that was looking for a partner to get out of its financial crisis.
It seemed that Adecoagro was winning the fight until Néstor Kirchner closed an agreement to export powdered milk with Venezuela in exchange for financing, which ended up sinking the local dairy company.
"I don't know if because of that small business or because he got tired of trying in a highly hostile economic scenario. The fact that there are export rights, foreign exchange delays for foreign business and controlled prices -Fair or Careful- in the internal market mean that no companies that do not have a firm footing, such as Nestlé, Saputo (Molfino/La Paulina) or Savencia (Milkaut/Santa Rosa), will stay. I estimate that they will see the 2024 scenario to see what happens, but the current scenario is very adverse" , explained a business insider.
Long list of retreating multinationals
The departure of Lactalis, a group with a turnover of 20,000 million euros and 85,000 employees, joins a long list of multinationals that
stopped having Argentina on the radar of their direct investments.
Added to the shock that the pandemic was for the finances of all companies was the peculiarity of the domestic crisis.
Other large companies that left the country were Walmart, which sold its business to the De Narváez group, or the Italian Enel, which has already divested itself of its Costanera and Dock Sud power plants and is looking for a buyer for Edesur.
There were firms that directly
closed their operations,
such as the Chilean Falabella and the airlines LAN and Norwegian in the cabotage air market.
And a third group that left their brands in the hands of third parties (Nike, Asics, Edding, Shell).
In the midst of the fight with the Government, Enel sold its share in the Central Dock Sud to YPF