Our Story

Lactalis South Africa

We are a proud manufacturer of some of South Africa’s quality and trusted brands such as Parmalat, Melrose, Président, SteriStumpie, Bonnita and PureJoy.

We are part of the Lactalis Group – the world’s largest dairy company which was founded in 1933 by André Besnier in Laval in the west of France. The Lactalis Group has 250 production sites with more than 85000 employees in 94 countries.

In South Africa, the Lactalis Group legacy and knowledge merges with local dairy know-how and passion that has provided jobs and wholesome dairy products locally since the early 1900s where our history started with Bonnita and Parmalat.

Lactalis Group acquired a majority share in Parmalat SpA in 2011 and in 2020, the company officially rebranded and became Lactalis South Africa which is a change in name only.

Lactalis South Africa remains home to its strong brands in dairy product categories which range from cheese, yoghurt, milk, and custard, to flavoured milk, cream, drinking yoghurt, maas, fruit beverages, butter and ice cream.




Lactalis South Africa has a long and proud history in the local dairy industry. We are the home of some of South Africa’s most iconic brands and we look forward to continued innovation as we build new brands as a part of the Lactalis Group, the biggest dairy company in the world.

Here’s a look at the many dairy legends in our past who have helped us become the dairy leader that we are today.


The Boesmans River Co-operative Cheese Factory is founded in Bonnievale, producing a delicious Gouda cheese.

The Boesmans River Co-operative began with fewer than 20 members.

The international Lactalis Group is founded in Laval, France by André Besnier.

Lactalis is presently in its third generation of milk production in the Besnier family.


Farmers in Stellenbosch found Simonsberg Dairy, famed for its creamy Jersey milk from the foothills of the Simonsberg mountains.


Towerkop Co-operative is established in Ladismith, making a distinctive Gouda cheese.

Towerkop (which means ‘magical head’) is named after a majestic mountain on the outskirts of Ladismith.

Melrose Cheese factory is founded in Johannesburg by businessman Ruben Sieve.


United Dairies builds the first milk sterilisation plant in South Africa.


United Dairies launches what will become a South African icon, Steri Stumpie flavoured milk.

The three most popular Steri Stumpie flavours are Chocolate, Strawberry and Cream Soda.

Simonsberg starts to make cheese, utilising the milk surplus available during university and school holidays in Stellenbosch.


East meets west: United Dairy Co-operative merges with Cape Dairy Co-operative.

The new Cape Dairy Co-operative included established brands like Bonnita, EverFresh and PureJoy.


Simonsberg launches its famous Blue Vein Camembert.

Simonsberg’s blue cheeses were made under the watchful eye of a number of skilled Danish cheesemakers.


Parmalat SA acquires Cape Dairy Co-operative and Towerkop Dairy Co-operative.

Parmalat International, a former dairy giant based in Italy, started Parmalat SA in 1998.


Parmalat buys the Simonsberg and Melrose Cheese factories in Stellenbosch from Unilever..

The acquisition of Melrose and Simonsberg firmly entrenches Parmalat as a cheese leader in South Africa.

Lactalis acquires majority shareholding in Parmalat SA.

Lactalis employs 75 000 people worldwide, at 237 production sites in 43 different countries.


Parmalat’s plant in Bonnievale becomes the biggest cheese plant in South Africa.

The Bonnievale Cheese Plant processes nearly 30 000 tonnes of cheese each year.


Parmalat is 100% acquired by Lactalis and becomes known as Lactalis South Africa.