Laval, 80 km east of Rennes and capital of the département of Mayenne, is the headquarters of Lactalis, now reckoned to be the world’s largest dairy company. The business was established on 19 October 1933 by André Besnier (1894-1955) and in its first week his employees made 17 Camenbert cheeses from 35 litres of milk. When André Besnier was succeeded in 1955 by his son Michael Besnier the company had only 50 employees, but subsequently it grew rapidly. The launch of its Président brand of Camenbert in 1968 was highly successful, and during the 1980s it became a major supplier of liquid milk. By the end of the twentieth century la Société Besnier was a substantial global corporation with 15,000 employees, and it took the name Lactalis in 1999.
The company museum opened in 1999 and includes some 2500 objects. There are cheese mills and presses relating to the earliest stages of the company’s history, together with cream separators and churns, as well as examples of the cans, bottles and cartons that have been used to deliver products to customers.