In 1907, 62 cooperatives founded the Central Switzerland Milk Association in Lucerne (Zentralschweizerischer Milchverband, MVL). The Association gained a foothold in the canton of Lucerne in 1919 through the purchase of milk from the Neuhüsern dairy cooperative in the commune of Emmen. Initially, Sbrinz cheese was produced there during the 1920s, with production of soft cheese beginning in the 1940s.
The general shortage of food during the two world wars resulted in state control of milk production and processing. The state delegated implementation of its decisions on the dairy industry to various institutions. The old shepherd’s hut owned by the MVL in Hasli-Emmen (canton of Lucerne) was therefore converted into a milk regulation unit by the Emmentaler cheese dairy in 1944. Milk from Emmen was also supplied to Ticino and Basel at this time, in addition to the city of Lucerne and surrounding urban areas.
Soft cheese and yoghurt was marketed under the Emmi brand name in Emmen for the first time in 1947, the name referring to the municipality of Emmen. Emmi brand yoghurts were initially supplied in glass jars, and in plastic pots from 1962. In order to satisfy demand, the newly built "Milchhof" production site in Emmen became operational in 1966, with new successful products such as "Coupe Chantilly" soon being manufactured there. The Emmen area formed the basis for Emmi’s further expansion.
The production site in Dagmersellen has also been operational since the 1960s. Built by MVL over 50 years ago to process the constantly growing milk deliveries, milk powder is still manufactured there today. In recent years, the site has also become the largest Swiss mozzarella production site.
General Meeting on 23 June: Creation of the company Emmi AG, which is organized into a modern, division-based structure. Emmi reinforces its customer proximity by separating association activities from commercial ones. In 1993, Emmi defines itself the strategy of becoming national market leader and strengthening its activities abroad by means of increased exports and licensing.
Expansion in the cheese sector with the acquisition of Refa Weichkäse AG and From Fresh AG in Kaltbach. Setup of an experimental cheese dairy at the Neuhüsern facility. The Kaltbach facility is converted into an Emmi speciality cheeses facility with natural cave-based ageing.
Growth via market share gains in the desserts and mozzarella segments, as well as through innovations. Implementation of a project geared towards strict cost-cutting.
First-time production of functional food with "Aktifit". Commencement of operations at a cheese ageing facility in Emmen and a mozzarella factory in Dagmersellen.
Acquisition of internationally active cheese trading companies Alfred Gerber AG, Thun; Farner & Co AG, Langenthal; Firma Bürki & Cie, Berne; Gebrüder Joost AG, Langnau.
Commencement of operations at the Coop dairy in Basel, beginning of partnership with soft cheese producer Baer AG in Küssnacht and the North-Western Switzerland Milk Association. Acquisition of Zingg AG, Liebefeld, which is active in the fondue and process cheese segments, on 1 January 2002. Start-up of fine logistics company Emmi Interfrais SA following the acquisition of Baer Interfromage SA.
Successful issue of a subordinated bond with a conditional conversion right in the amount of CHF 71.3 million. Planning for the IPO in 2005. Acquisition of Burra AG, a catering supplier to the Zurich region, on 1 January 2002. Commencement of operations at the new fresh products logistics centre in Emmen (investment of CHF 33 million).
Acquisitions lead to an increase of over CHF 500 million in sales and the integration of approx. 850 employees: 2003 is a year of consolidation. Expansion work starts on the Kirchberg facility (packaging) with an investment of CHF 35 million, while proprietary marketing companies are established in the key export countries of Italy, Germany, France and the US.
Walter Huber takes over as CEO from Fritz Wyss, who plans to focus on his function as Chairman of the Board of Directors. Caffè Latte is launched in March, and goes on to become Emmi's most successful product launch. In November, Emmi announces a partnership with world leader Bongrain, and in December Emmi is floated on the stock exchange (SWX) to great success.
In 2005, Emmi exceeds the CHF 2 billion mark for the first time in terms of sales. Emmi strengthens its competence in the organics segment with the acquisition of a majority stake in the Biedermann dairy in Bischofszell TG, and expands its speciality cheese business with the purchase of a stake in Cetra Alimentari SA. Emmi launches Choco Latte and yoghurt drink Evolus (Portugal and Switzerland), and presents its own range of ice creams for the first time. Emmi sets its sights on Latin America with the acquisition of a minority stake in Spanish company Kaiku. World Champion Tom Lüthi rides with Caffè Latte: Emmi becomes main sponsor of the Elit-Caffè Latte Racing Team.
In January, Emmi announces a strategic partnership with US cheese producer Roth Ltd. In spring, Emmi launches an innovation in cheese: Swiss Alp is the first cheese with an edible herb coating. 1st April sees the operative launch of Mittelland Molkerei AG at the site in Suhr. By combining the production in Lucerne and Suhr, Emmi strengthens its international competitiveness. The acquisition of Northern Italian yoghurt producer Trentinalatte in the summer of 2006 is the first takeover by Emmi of a major producer abroad. In September Emmi announces the planned convergence of the two melting factories in Thun and Langnau. Other projects initiated include the increase in cheese production in Landquart and the extension of the cheese ripening storehouse in Moudon.
The successful partnership with DJ Bobo continues: in February, Emmi and DJ BoBo sign a contract for the next two years. Swiss Alp, launched in 2006, is selected as the "Best New Cheese 2007" at the renowned Dairy Innovation Awards. On the occasion of the general assembly in May, the former member of the Federal Council Joseph Deiss is selected as a new member of the board of directors. At the beginning of July, Walter Huber, CEO of the Emmi Group, announces that he will be leaving Emmi and will become the new manager of the Industry department at Migros-Genossenschafts-Bund. In September, Emmi announces that Urs Riedener, former manager of the Marketing department at Migros, will be Walter Huber's successor as CEO. On 3rd October, Emmi hosts the world's largest fondue event (outside Switzerland) in New York.
At the beginning of March, Urs Riedener will take over the management of the Emmi Group as the CEO. Before joining Emmi, Urs Riedener was Head of Marketing and Member of the Executive Board of the Migros Cooperative. Roger Federer's visit to see Tom Lüthi on the occasion of the MotoGP in Estoril is being covered by media worldwide.
Emmi acquires the American cheese specialist Roth Käse USA Ltd. with effect from 1 January, thus expanding its market position in the key US market. Changes take place in Group Management: three new members, Robin Barraclough (Marketing), Mark Heim (Sales), and Natalie Rüedi (Human Resources), take a seat on the management committee. In summer, Emmi acquires a majority shareholding in Geneva-based Nutrifrais SA, thus adding the well-known brand "TamTam" to the Emmi product portfolio. At the General Meeting on 20 May, Konrad Graber is elected Chairman of the Board of Directors, succeeding Fritz Wyss. Emmi defines a new sponsorship strategy and focuses on alpine skiing. The highlight is a major presence at the legendary Lauberhorn races.
Emmi acquires Fromalp AG in Zollikofen on 1 July 2010. The integration of the cheese specialist reinforces Emmi in its domestic market as well as its position abroad, particularly in the fondue segment. As part of the Emmi brand strategy, from the second half of the year, Emmi repositions some 150 products under the "Emmi" umbrella brand and presents them in new, uniform packaging. Typical Swiss symbols and the silhouette of a mountain peak in red and white are the key elements.
Emmi continues the consistent pursuit of its strategy in 2011. The company defends its strong position in its domestic market by means of strong brand concepts and the launch of numerous innovations. For example, the new product Emmi Milk Shake ensure market attention. The acquisition of Italian dessert producer A-27 SpA benefits growth in the key foreign markets. By further developing its sponsorship commitment to Alpine skiing, Emmi is also increasingly present on the ski slopes. From the 2011-2012 season, Emmi is the new partner of the association Swiss Ski, skier Daniel Albrecht and the SNOWStar programme for up and coming skiers.
Despite a challenging climate, Emmi progressed well in 2012 and closed the year with the company's best result to date. This was mainly down to international trade, where Emmi continued to grow in 2012. For example, in July Emmi increased its holding in the Spanish milk processor Kaiku to 76 %, in the French cheese packaging specialist Diprola to 63 % and one month later its holding in the Italian soft cheese specialist Venchiaredo to 26 %. Emmi expanded its international organic arm in October by gaining a minority holding (24 %) in the organic dairy Biedermann belonging to the German organic milk processor Gläserne Meierei.
Swiss product innovations have also contributed to the good result. For example, in March another new variety of Emmi Caffè Latte was successfully launched in the form of the Vanilla Tahiti Edition. The new Emmi Mix-it Muesli, Emmi Chäs Schiibe cheese slices and KALTBACH Creamy & Tasty have also gone down well with consumers.
Emmi broke the CHF 3 billion barrier in 2013 thanks to organic and acquisition-related growth. Key brand platforms such as Emmi Caffè Latte and Kaltbach were underpinned both in Switzerland and abroad with targeted activities. High-quality product concepts such as Pure Swiss Yogurt, a yogurt without any additives, were launched. Emmi was strengthened by its acquisitions of AVH Dairy Trade BV (goat’s and sheep’s milk products) in the Netherlands, Käserei Studer AG in Switzerland and Italian dessert manufacturer Rachelli.
Emmi started 2014 with a new organisation, which was adapted to its increasing internationalisation. The company now has a clear separation of Group and country tasks and has created the three regions of Switzerland, Americas and Europe. During this year of change, Emmi also finally moved into its new headquarters, on the site of the former Butterzentrale in Lucerne.
2015 began for Emmi – as for many other export-oriented Swiss companies – with a major challenge: the Swiss National Bank (SNB) announced the discontinuation of the minimum exchange rate for the euro. Emmi reacted with measures at various levels: price increases on export products, lower procurement costs in Switzerland and abroad, as well as enhanced rationalisation and productivity-raising measures. In addition, even in this challenging environment, Emmi maintained its decision to discontinue business with insufficient margins. While sales fell 5 % in 2015 as a result, Emmi was able to increase its net profit by over 10 %, without shedding jobs in Switzerland or relocating positions abroad.
Emmi also added further important components to its international growth in 2015. In mid-April 2015, Emmi acquired the cheese business of Canadian company J.L. Freeman – a longstanding trading partner of Emmi. This move substantially strengthened Emmi Canada, which previously specialised in the import of Swiss cheese, and extended its value chain. The acquisition of American company Redwood Hill Farm & Creamery followed at the end of the year. This family business in Sebastopol, California, is not only the leading manufacturer of fresh products made from goat’s milk in the US, but also has an attractive range of lactose-free, organic cow’s milk products.
2016 was characterised by conditions that had scarcely changed since the previous year: challenging economic conditions in many countries, a strong Swiss franc, declining trade revenues and low milk prices worldwide. All of this was reflected in our sales performance, which only barely met our own expectations.
Emmi owes the solid business results that it was still able to achieve in 2016 to established cost-saving and efficiency programme Emmi Operational Excellence (EOE) and to the ongoing improvements to its product portfolio. One of these improvements, for example, was the new protein-rich products that Emmi launched in 2016. To reinforce proximity to our consumers, as part of a pilot project in Lucerne and Zurich we opened two take-away stores under the name of YoBar.
Emmi set the course for continued success in future with further acquisitions in 2016: the first was German organic milk processor Gläserne Molkerei, which has been fully owned by Emmi since January. Dutch fresh goat's cheese manufacturer Bettinehoeve joined Emmi shortly after this. At the same time, Emmi acquired a majority stake in Goat Milk Powder, a joint venture of Bettinehoeve and Dutch Emmi subsidiary AVH Dairy. Emmi rounded the year off by acquiring a stake in Spanish goat's milk processor Lácteos Caprinos.