The story behind Emmi

Our roots in milk processing date back to 1907. This unique heritage and “savoir-faire” continue to shape the way we develop our business and create the best dairy moments for our consumers – day after day.

1907 Central Switzerland Milk Association Following preliminary consultations in 1904 and 1905, 62 dairy farming cooperatives found the Central Switzerland Milk Association in Lucerne (MVL) on 9 February 1907 – the predecessor organisation of what is now Emmi. The MVL unites 1,768 dairy farmers from the canton of Lucerne who together keep 15,310 cows. The founding board is chaired by Rudolf Schläfli from Sursee.
1914-1918 | 1939-1945 World Wars State control of milk production and milk processing. Conversion of MVL’s old shepherd’s hut in Emmen into a milk regulation unit.
1947 “Emmi” brand First use of “Emmi” as a brand (in reference to the municipality of Emmen) for soft cheese and yogurt.
1960er New construction New construction of the “Milchhof” production facility in Emmen and construction of the production facility in Dagmersellen.
1993 The company “Emmi AG” is founded The members of the Central Switzerland Milk Association (MVL) decide to separate association activities from commercial activities in favour of a modern division-based structure. The company Emmi AG is founded on 23 June 1993 within the framework of an annual general meeting.
2002 Number 1 in the Swiss dairy industry Emmi takes over the cheese business of Swiss Dairy Food. This transaction sees the integration of Gerberkäse AG in Thun, Fromagerie de Saignelégier SA, Fromco (Affinage) SA in Moudon, Goldbach & Roth AG in Lützelflüh, Käsespezialitäten AG in Utzenstorf, Lataria Engiadinaisa in Bever, Säntis Fromsuisse SA in Gossau and Top Cheese Switzerland AG in Ostermundigen into the Emmi Group. This makes Emmi the no. 1 in the Swiss dairy industry.
2003 Benecol Emmi launches the cholesterol-lowering yogurt drink Benecol on the market in Switzerland, Spain, Portugal, Austria, Germany and the UK.
2004 Listing on stock exchange On 6 December, Emmi AG shares are traded on the Swiss stock exchange for the first time.
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Since 2006 Growth Growth in Switzerland and abroad: Emmi Roth, Onken, Molkerei Biedermann AG, A-27, Kaiku, etc.
2015-2017 Internationalisation Increasing internationalisation and expansion of the portfolio: J.L Freeman (USA), Redwood Hill Farm & Creamery (USA), Bettinehoeve (NL), Cowgirl Creamery (USA), increased stake in Surlat (CHL), Mittelland Molkerei (CH), Lácteos Caprinos (ES), Meyenberg (USA), IFF (IT), Laticínios Porto Alegre Indústria e Comércio (BRA)
2016 Partnership with WWF Emmi sets itself specific sustainability goals for the first time and enters into a partnership with WWF Switzerland.
2017 Niches Expansion of strategic niches: desserts, organic and goat’s milk products.
2018 Investments Emmi increases its stake in key subsidiaries, including in Tunisia (Centrale Laitière Mahdia), Spain (Kaiku) and the Netherlands (AVH Dairy).
2019 Emmi increases its stake in Brazilian company Laticínios Porto Alegre Indústria e Comércio S.A. Emmi increases its stake in Laticínios Porto Alegre Indústria e Comércio S.A, based in Ponte Nova in the state of Minas Gerais (Brazil) from 40 % to 70 %. Emmi has held a stake in the dairy since July 2017, which has continued to perform well since then and is now among the top three largest dairies in its primary market of Minas Gerais.
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2020 Sustainable milk Emmi is a pioneer of the “swissmilk green” sustainability standard for the Swiss dairy industry. Today, nine out of every ten litres (93 %) of milk that we process in Switzerland are sustainably produced.
1900 - 1949
The story behind Emmi The Swiss dairy industry before the World Wars

At the beginning of the 20th century, Switzerland is shaped by growth – including in the agricultural sector. Livestock numbers and milk yields are on the rise, and milk production doubles within the space of 50 years. The dairy sector is becoming more professional thanks to central dairy organisations, dairy merchants and dairies. Farmers also band together to form self-help organisations to boost their power on the market.

The story behind Emmi The First World War

The First World War breaks out on 28 July 1914. The war leads to food shortages throughout Europe. In Switzerland, the federal authorities give the Central Switzerland Milk Producers the remit of securing the supply of milk for the Swiss population at stable prices.

The story behind Emmi Interwar years

It takes some time for life to return to normal in Switzerland after the end of the First World War (1918). Great efforts are made to safeguard the supply of milk and milk products to consumers. 1922 – after the mandate to cultivate grains and root crops (e.g. potatoes) is lifted – the tide turns on the Swiss dairy market: the market is flooded with milk and the opportunities to sell the product deteriorate as a result, not least due to tariff increases and import restrictions by other countries. Within the space of just a few months, the milk price falls by 15 centimes to 19 centimes per litre.

The story behind Emmi The Second World War

After 15 years of normality, the Second World War breaks out (1 September 1939) and a state of emergency is reimposed.

1950 - 1988
The story behind Emmi Postwar years

On the basis of a revised 1947 business article, beginning in 1952 a new agricultural law regulates Swiss agriculture. The provisions governing the dairy sector and their implementation are highly contested, with the dairy industry assuming a key role. The entire milk market organisation is geared towards securing a milk price for producers that covers their costs. Given this key role, the milk price is set by the Federal Council. In return, dairy farmers are required to supply their milk to an official milk collection point or cheese dairy. Butyra and the cheese union oversee the sale of the resulting dairy products. The former organisation additionally controls the monopoly and thus regulates the butter price. Even back then, a price-support fund is needed to offset earnings on the foreign cheese markets, which are too low compared with the Swiss milk price.

The story behind Emmi The boom years

After 1945, Switzerland experiences a boom like it has never seen before and it holds strong until the 1970s. Swiss exports increase almost ten-fold during this period. Rising wealth also changes consumer habits, with growing demand for ready-to-eat, pasteurised, sterilised, frozen and pre-packaged foods. Food companies are forced to invest in processing and packaging equipment and thus to produce in larger units.

The story behind Emmi Recession of the 1970s

The collapse of the Bretton Woods system of monetary management (March 1973) and the crude oil crisis (autumn 1973) trigger a global recession. It spells the end of the economic boom that has lasted almost 30 years.

The story behind Emmi Growth

To curtail the milk surplus and prop up the milk price, the individual farm milk quota system is introduced in 1977. The total volume of milk produced in Switzerland is limited to 3.2 million tonnes annually.

The story behind Emmi Remedy sought to the crisis

The economy is faced with numerous problems at the beginning of the 1990s, and Switzerland is no exception. In an environment of zero growth, rising unemployment and stagnating business confidence, companies have to find new ways to keep themselves afloat.

The story behind Emmi Emmi is founded

The members of the Central Switzerland Milk Association (MVL) decide to separate association activities from commercial activities in favour of a modern division-based structure. The company Emmi AG is founded on 23 June 1993 within the framework of an annual general meeting.

The story behind Emmi Internationalisation

On 1 January 1993, the single European market comes into effect, providing a boost to growth. The Swiss population votes against joining the European Economic Area (EEA) in 1992 and consequently is unable benefit from this positive trend. The economy continues to stagnate until 1996. Major changes are ushered in for the Swiss dairy industry when the Federal Council elects to reduce the milk price to 10 centimes while at the same time increasing direct payments to farmers.

The story behind Emmi Period of transition in the Swiss dairy industry
2007 - 2021
The story behind Emmi Free trade in cheese between Switzerland and the EU

As part of the bilateral treaties with the European Union (EU), the 2002 agricultural policy aims to improve the competitiveness of the Swiss agricultural sector. The agreement between Switzerland and the EU on trade in agricultural products enters into force in 2002. Trading in cheese sees the biggest changes as a result of the new accord. Between 2002 and 2007, both parties reduce customs charges on an incremental basis, and from June 2007 the movement of cheese goods between Switzerland and the EU is duty-free. Since then, all border protections towards the EU for Switzerland's most important dairy product have been lifted. The domestic subsidies for the sale of cheese in the Swiss market are paid out for the last time in 2002. The export subsidies for cheese exports outside the EU remain in place until 2008, albeit at a continually declining level. This creates considerably more challenging conditions for the Swiss dairy industry as a whole.

The story behind Emmi Milk quota system is scrapped in Switzerland

Since the turn of the century Swiss politicians have been weighing up whether or not to scrap its system of milk quotas. This is prompted by an earlier announcement by the European Union (EU) that it intended to review its quota system in 2003 and abolish it by no later than 2008. In 2003, the decision is made to exit by 2009. In the wake of the abolition of the milk quota system, milk volumes rise – and continue to do so until 2014. As the milk price falls, milk volumes stabilise in response to a slightly lower level. The number of dairy farmers sees a continual decline. In the EU, incidentally, the milk quota is not scrapped until 1 April 2015.

The story behind Emmi New organisation reflects internationalisation

For several decades, Emmi's international business had focused on exports from Switzerland and licence agreements abroad. The resources associated with this abroad were manageable. Since the turn of the century, however, an increasing number of larger stakes in foreign production sites have transformed Emmi into an international corporate group. Since the beginning of 2014 the new Group structure takes into account market opportunities, the importance of the Swiss domestic market and the increasing internationalisation of Emmi. The vision of Emmi as an independent company maintaining its position in open markets for the duration remains unchanged. Similarly, Emmi's three strategic pillars will also remain intact: (1) Strengthening its market-leading position in Switzerland, (2) Targeted international growth, (3) Rigorous and long-term cost management.

The story behind Emmi Sustainable economic success through a focused corporate strategy

While Emmi continues to optimise its brand and product portfolio, drive forward innovations and strong brand concepts, and thus strengthen its leading position in the Swiss domestic market, it is also pushing ahead with its international growth. Its international presence allows it to diversify geographically, exploit synergies and economies of scale, and participate in growth. In order to be able to invest in sustainable growth and innovation, Emmi pursues rigorous cost management throughout the Group. In addition to these three main pillars of the strategy, Emmi is investing in the development of attractive niches such as organic and goat’s milk products and desserts.

Portrait and strategy

Rooted in Switzerland, branching out worldwide – with a focused and proven strategy.

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