Rabat – The General Director of Centrale Danone, Didier Lamblin, has opened up about the consequences of the boycott campaign and the company’s decision to reduce milk orders from Moroccan farmers by 30 percent.
“It makes me sad because the situation has damaging consequences for the company and the country,” said the chief executive of the company in an interview with Media24.
He added that the company “spared no efforts” to reconcile with customers during the holy month of Ramadan. “Despite the efforts…attacks continue against the quality of our products after all the accusations.”
On Monday, Centrale Danone informed its farm partners that they would be purchasing 30 percent less milk due to the consequences of the boycott that has been ongoing for five weeks.
Recalling the Centrale Danone letter addressed to the Moroccan farmers on Monday, Lamblin said that company has not “given up” on any of the partners.
“We have continued to collect all the milk produced and we pay the same price as before,” he added.
An ‘untenable situation’
The director general of the company confessed that Centrale Danone has failed at all attempted to keep its level of purchase the same. Lamblin said that the company first attempted to use unsold milk products to produce other dairy products, including milk powder and butter.
“However, we had an alert in the company, Saturday, May 26, that it has become untenable and that we had to reduce the order.”
Defending his company, Lamblin said that Centrale Danone had been planning several projects to serve the interests of small farmers during the early days of the boycott.
“I was announcing wonderful things at the Agricultural Show [in Meknes] to help 20,000 of our small products double their income.”
He also pledged other projects in concert with the government to “revive the consumption of fresh dairy products.”
‘We cannot share numbers’
When asked about the reasons behind the estimated 30-percent reduction in volume, Lamblin refused to share data with the news source, emphasizing that the information might be announced officially later.
However, the chief executive of Centrale Danone did not deny that the impact of the boycott is “very significant” and has led to the adoption of several measures, including stopping all donations to foundations and the freezing investment and recruitment.
In addition to the reduction of milk orders, Centrale Danone has also terminated all temporary contracts of less than six months “to cope with the numerous shutdowns of production lines and the reorganization of our truck tours.”
‘People don’t know what the boycott is about’
According to Lamblin, some people are supporting the boycott campaign without knowing what is it about.
“What concerns us is when we ask people who boycott why they do so, many say they do not know and they are just supporting the boycott.”
Lamblin claimed that Centrale Danone is a “collateral victim of the boycott,” adding that the company has been present for decades in Morocco. He also denied that the company increased prices five years ago “despite difficulties.”
Despite the resistance of the boycott, Centrale Danone has refused to meet the demands of consumers and lower its prices. Instead, the company will reduce the milk orders from Moroccan farmers.
“There was no attempt to reduce anything or change prices during my time at the head of Centrale Danone,” he said.
Moral boycott for Centrale Danone?
According to Lamblin, Centrale Danone should make more work to show consumers what the company has done for the country. He further explained that the company understands that boycotters want changes to their prices and ways of communication, adding that the company “should be more humble and show consumers all the good initiatives Centrale Danone has been taking.”
The ongoing boycott, which started on April 20, targets also Sidi Ali mineral water and Afriquia gasoline.