Our heritage


Way back in the 1880’s, dairy farmers in Denmark and Sweden formed small cooperatives to invest in common dairy production facilities. By doing this they made efficient use of their milk and higher quality products. The earnings they made from their milk were equally split between the dairy farmers and together they built a good future for themselves and the next generation on their farm.

Over the years, the cooperative idea proved increasingly attractive. Small farmer cooperatives merged and became stronger. They expanded from local to regional to national cooperatives. In 2000, the largest Danish dairy cooperative merged with its Swedish counterpart and Arla Foods, the first cross-border dairy cooperative, was formed.

The cooperative idea also flourished in other countries and through recent mergers cooperative owners in the UK, the Netherlands, Germany, Belgium and Luxembourg have joined Arla Foods. And we will continue to grow stronger...


The Arla history dates back to 1881 when the first dairies in Denmark and Sweden were founded.

Over the years many more co-operative daires were founded. After The Second World War there was 1,650 dairies in Denmark only and the number kept growing until the 1960's when the first ideas of creating nation wide dairies was suggested. From then on mergers and acquisitions among dairies was part of the daily life in both Denmark and Sweden.

In year 2000 the Danish MD Foods and the Swedish Arla ekonomisk Förening decided to merge. This was the first large cross national merger in the Nordic dairy industry - only to see many more come after.

Landmarks in Arla history from 2000 and forward

  • 2004 Arla acquired National Cheese Company in Canada, and become a producer and distributor of cheese in all Canada.

  • 2005 Arla and the Chinese dairy company China Mengniu Company started a partnership in producing milk powder for the Chinese market.

  • 2006 Arla bought the American cheese speciality dairy White Clover in Wisconsin, USA.

  • 2006 Arla bought the privately owned Dairy, Tholstrup Cheese, adding the Castello brand to the Arla brand history.2006 Arla announced the purchase of the privately owned Finnish dairy Ingman Foods Oy Ab.

  • 2007 Merger between Arla and Express Dairies in the UK. The merger creates the UK's leading supplier of dairy products under the name of Arla Foods UK plc.

  • 2009 Arla bought the Dutch dairy Friesland Fresh Foods in Nijkerk, changing it's name to Arla Foods BV.

  • 2010 Shareholders of Westbury Dairies Ltd announced joint venture with Arla Foods UK plc.

  • 2011 Merger between Arla and Hansa-Milch eG from Germany, 670 active German farmers became cooperative owners of Arla Foods a.m.b.a.

  • 2011 EU’s competition authorities gave the go-ahead for Arla Foods’ acquisition of Allgäuland-Käsereien in Southern Germany.

  • 2012 Arla merged with the German dairy company Milch-union Hocheifel MUH, and British Milk Link. The mergers meant that Arla Foods grew from 8,024 co-operative owners in Denmark, Sweden and Germany to 12,300 co-operative owners in Denmark, Sweden, Germany, Belgium, Luxembourg and the UK.

  • 2012 Arla signed agreements with China’s leading dairy company China Mengniu Dairy Company Ltd. and with the leading food and beverage company in China, COFCO Corporation.

  • 2018 Arla acquires Middle East and Africa Kraft branded cheese business from Mondeléz International.

  • 2019 Arla Foods commits to reaching Carbon Net Zero by 2050.

  • 2020 Launch of Arla’s first plant-based product range ‘JÖRĐ'. 
Results & performance


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