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Nestlé, the Swiss food group that last month swallow Pfizer’s infant nutrition business for $11.85bn in order to enlarge its emerging markets presence, is at it again.
On Tuesday, the company said it planned to invest more than CHF5.3m ($5.7m) in the North African nation of Morocco in a bid to boost its milk collection and production in the region.
Moroccan officials say the deal and others pending are evidence of interest by multinationals in the country of 32m. Foreign direct investment in Morocco, heavily dependent on Europe’s economy, was growing steadily until the financial meltdown in 2008 and is now picking up again, totaling $3.6bn in 2010.
The deal comes amid a continuing debate about food self-sufficiency across North Africa. Despite having sufficient arable lands, countries across the region find themselves spending billions each year to import and sometimes subsidise foodstuffs from abroad.
The Nestlé joint venture, in partnership with government agriculture officials in the west-central Doukkala-Abda region, “aims to increase milk production, improve the quality of fresh milk and encourage the development of the dairy industry throughout the private sector,” according to the press release.
Nestlé will train, provide equipment and finance more than 10,000 dairy farmers.
The region currently produces about a fifth of Morocco’s milk.
“This partnership will expand our dairy operations in the country,” David Saudan, Chief Executive Officer of Nestlé Morocco, said in the announcement.
Vevey, Switzerland-based foods giant Nestlé has operated a powdered milk factory in the Moroccan city of El Jadida since 1992.
Morocco supplies a third of the world’s phosphates, a key ingredient in fertiliser. It is also a major tourism destination.