Friday, October 12, 2018

"Hopes for a Chinese cash cow in France milk country sour"

From the South China Morning Post who seem to have succumbed to what we call the  'bovine headline syndrome.':
The opening of a Chinese-owned infant milk powder plant in a small town in the Brittany region of western France in 2016 was heralded as an economic saviour for the region and a win for French dairy farmers.

The 170 million (US$196 million) Carhaix factory would provide some 120,000 tonnes of high quality powdered milk a year to China, where demand for foreign infant milk products has soared after a years of food scares.

France’s biggest dairy cooperative Sodiaal signed a 10-year contact with Synutra, China’s third largest baby milk formula producer, to be the plant’s leading supplier. It would collect 288 million litres of milk a year from 800 farms in Brittany and beyond.
“No infant milk formula company in the world can produce such quantities,” Synutra France CEO Christian Mazuray said at the time.

But now Sodiaal, whose brands include Yoplait, Entremont and Candia, is negotiating with Synutra to purchase part of the Carhaix plant to recover its upfront investment.
Sodiaal confirmed plans in August, but has been tight-lipped about its relationship with the Chinese firm.

French media have otherwise painted a partnership soured by unpaid bills and milk formula exports to China that were 50 per cent less than forecast.
“The pitiful failure of the Chinese in Brittany.” declared La Croix newspaper.
“Dream becomes a nightmare,” reported Ouest-France.
Attempts to obtain comment from Synutra were unsuccessful.

“There will be no negative impact either on the level of collection, the price of milk or the shares,” Sodiaal’s president Damien Lacomb told Ouest-France last month in a bid to quell farmers’ fears about the future.

Beyond that, the cooperative, which describes itself as an organisation governed by and for its 12,500 producers, has revealed nothing more concrete about its plans – and French farmers are anxious.
“The Chinese mirage Synutra disappeared … and it was predictable!”, exclaimed a newsletter of the eastern France branch of the agricultural union, Coordination Rurale (CR).

“We are concerned about the pertinence of such a project, especially given the glaring lack of transparency and information about the move and what the future holds,” said Véronique Le Floc’h, CR’s secretary general and head of the National Organisation of Dairy Producers.

“The eventual repurchase of a production facility with no commercial outlet will inevitably impact the cooperative and the farms.

“What will be demanded of producers in the event of that?”...

A couple other examples of the headline syndrome:
The Political Economy of Cows: Udder Peoples Money
What's Moooving: Cows as Safe Assets

Previously in Franco-Sino relations: 

We've been posting on British Farmland for years but, outside of the odd Chateau listing and the effects of climate on wine growing I think this is the first French farmland post.
Two things to be very, very wary of: The Common Agricultural Policy and the French tax code.
And then in 2016:
China Buying Farmland In Central France
"Chinese Investors Are Buying Up French Farmland"

And this February "Chinese billionaire sees a goldmine in French fields"

The has more on the latest:
'This is our land': Furious French farmers protest Chinese investors