Dairy's History on Display

January 10, 2005
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Among the exhibits at Lactopôle is the first Tetra Pak filler used in France.
Groupe Lactalis was founded in 1933 in Laval, France, as a family-owned dairy processing company. Founder André Besnier led the growth of the company into a multi-billion dollar international giant.

"Mr. Besnier was very proud of how the company had grown and how the dairy industry had evolved during that period, so when he was in his eighties he decided to build a museum that would reflect that," says Luc Morelon, director of communications at Lactalis.

The André Besnier Lactopôle museum, built in 1999, a few years before Besnier passed away, is a legacy not only to the company he built, but also to the dairy industry as a whole.

The museum features a portion of the 180,000 Camembert labels collected by the Besnier family. There are collections of milk cans and butter churns that span most of the 20th century, many of earliest types of centrifuges used to separate milk, and the first Tetra Pak machine used in France.

There is also a recreation of the 1940s era dairy that was the cornerstone of the company that is now France's largest dairy exporter, and the Spiral of Packages which traces the history of dairy packaging.

Much of Lactalis's growth toward becoming a $7 billion company took place through acquisition in the 1980s and ‘90s. At Lactopôle, the history of each of those individual companies is illustrated through a series of displays that also traces the growth of Lactlis.

The museum, which is adjacent to the company's headquarters, is open to the public seven days a week and features a gift shop where visitors can purchase souvenirs and some of Lactalis's award winning products, including Camemberts, and cave-aged Roqueforts.

Last year the museum hosted more than 25,000 visitors.

For more information visit www.lactopole.fr.

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