Prophet-cartoon crisis cost dairy group €53.6m

Scandinavian dairy group Arla Foods today said the boycott of its products in the Middle East sparked by the Prophet Mohammed cartoons had cost the company about €53.6m in 2006.

The group said its sales in the Middle East and north Africa have rebounded in recent months, reaching 60% of levels before the boycott, which started in Saudi Arabia in January and spread to other Arab countries.

Most supermarkets have since ended the boycott after Arla Foods distanced itself from the cartoons that appeared last year in a Danish newspaper.

“This has been a tough time for everyone at Arla Foods involved in our Middle East business,” company spokesman Finn Hansen said. “But nevertheless, it’s a relief that the boycott of our dairy products has come to an end.”

Arla, Europe’s second-largest dairy company, owned by some 10,000 Danish and Swedish co-operative members, was the company hardest hit by the Muslim outrage caused by the cartoons, which led to violent protests in many Islamic countries.

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