Sodiaal receives €40m loan to boost research and innovation

Sodiaal is France’s largest dairy co-operative with 20,000 members

The European Investment Bank (EIB) has granted French co-op Sodiaal a €40m (£34.97m) loan to finance its research and development programme.

Sodiaal is France’s largest dairy co-operative and the third largest in Europe, with 20,000 members. It processes 4.7bn litres of milk per year across 70 industrial plants – enough to fill 1,880 Olympic-size swimming pools.

The co-operative will use the funding to develop new processing technologies, food packaging and infant formulas. It also plans to strengthen collaboration with public and private research institutes.

In 2013 Sodiaal joined with other dairy companies and research institutes to position the west of France as the centre of innovation within the sector. The region is known as the Milk Valley.

“This funding illustrates our desire to focus on upgrading our product offer, in line with our strategic transformation plan #Value,” said Sodiaal’s CEO, Jorge Boucas. “It will enable us to develop our research and development activities for our European and global markets and will particularly support the development of our new research centre based in Rennes, Brittany, in the heart of the Milk Valley.”

Adopted in 2017, Sodiaal’s strategic transformation plan focuses on seeking out the best value increase for each litre of milk produced by the co-operative.

The loan was allocated through the European Fund for Strategic Investment, which aims to finance projects in key areas such as infrastructure, research and innovation, education, renewable energy and energy efficiency, as well as risk finance for small and medium-sized enterprises. The fund is managed by EIB.

“This investment […] is a reminder that Europe has made innovation financing one of its priorities,” said EIB vice-president Ambroise Fayolle.

“Europe also wants to be fully committed to the development of agriculture, to support the sector as well as the consumers. After Roullier in 2018, Sodiaal is the second company in France to receive funding from the EIB as part of the European agricultural and bioeconomy lending programme, which amount to €400m (£349.7m).”

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