12,700 milk producers in Denmark, Sweden, Germany, The UK, Luxemburg and Belgium are joint owners of Arla Foods. The company takes the form of a representative democracy with one vote for each cooperative member.
In Denmark and Sweden the company is divided into geographical areas: 24 districts in Sweden and 25 in Denmark. The districts are divided into seven regions, three in Sweden and four in Denmark.
The company has one company member, Hansa Arla Milch eG (Former Hansa Milch Mecklenburg-Holstein eG).
On October 1st 2012 Arla merged with the German Milch-Union Hocheifel (MUH) and British Milk Link, adding 2,750 owners to the group.
The District Council
Every year, the district cooperative members convene for a district meeting. The district’s supreme body is the district meeting and its executive body is the district council. At the district meeting each district elects a district council. The members of the district council who are elected as members of the Board of Representatives represent the district at the Regional Board and on the Board of Representatives.
The Regional Board
Each region has a Regional Board consisting of members of the Board of Representatives for the region. The work undertaken by the Regional Board primarily consists of preparing and following up on issues considered by the Board of Representatives.
The Board of Representatives
The Arla Foods Board of Representatives is the company’s supreme body comprising 179 members of whom 169 are cooperative members while 10 are elected among the employees of Arla Foods in Denmark and Sweden. The Board of Representatives in Denmark and Sweden consists of the district council chairmen, other members from most districts and ten employee representatives. Furthermore 5 members from Hansa Arla Milch eG, 5 from Milko, 9 from MUH, and 10 from Milk Link. The Board of Representatives meet at least three times a year: in March, May and once in the autumn.
The Board of Directors
The Board of Directors consists of 24 members of whom 8 are cooperative members from Denmark, 7 cooperative members from Sweden,1 from German Hansa Milch, 2 from German MUH and 2 from British Milk Link. A further 4 members are employee representatives. In Denmark and Sweden the number of cooperative members is based on the volume of milk and the number of milk producers in the two countries. The Danish regions each appoint a member of the Board of Directors and the remaining Swedish and Danish members are elected by the Board of Representatives.
Areas of responsibility
The Board of Representatives and the Board of Directors make decisions relating to long-term strategic decisions. The Board of Representatives decide on the distribution of the profits for the year. The Board of Directors’ responsibility to monitor the company’s activities and asset management, to maintain the accounts satisfactorily and to appoint the Management Board (CEO and Vice CEOs). The Executive Management Board (EMG) is responsible for Arla Foods’ day-to-day business operations and for preparing strategies and planning the future dairy structure.