NEW YORK — With $25 billion in dairy product-related sales during 2015, Nestle S.A., Vevey, Switzerland, remains atop Rabobank’s annual ranking of the 20th largest dairy processors in the world. Lactalis, Laval, France, and Danone, Paris, were ranked Nos. 2 and 3, respectively, in the ranking (click here to view the complete list).

The ranking paints a picture of an industry in transition as processors grapple with lower commodity prices and shift their focus away from China and to other emerging markets, such as Africa.

Kevin Bellamy, Rabobank
Kevin Bellamy, global dairy strategist for Rabobank

“The big story in this year’s top 20 list of dairy companies — based on turnover — is the shrinkage of the overall size of the pie,” said Kevin Bellamy, global dairy strategist. “Low dairy commodity prices and currency movements have had a dramatic downward effect on company sales values.”

In U.S. dollar terms, the top 20 posted combined dairy sales of $194 billion in 2015, down 13% year-over-year. It is indicative of how much the euro has weakened against the U.S. dollar in 2015 that the same collective turnover of the top 20 improved 4% year-over-year in euro terms, according to Rabobank.

As growth in China slowed, the world’s largest dairy companies started to look for new horizons to develop, Rabobank said. Africa is now definitely on the dairy map. In total, there were 14 deals in Africa, with four more year-to-date in 2016. This compares with only three deals recorded in Africa in the whole of 2014.