TWO dairy cooperatives recently announced acquisitions, with Canada's Gay Lea Foods Co-operative Ltd. adding Salerno Dairy and U.S.-based Dairy Farmers of America (DFA) purchasing Oakhurst.
Gay Lea Foods announced that an agreement had been reached, effective Feb. 1, to acquire Salerno, a family-owned company in Hamilton, Ont., that has manufactured specialty Italian cheeses since 1962. Its repertoire of specialty products includes hard, soft, semi-soft and shredded cheeses and cheese blends under the brands Salerno and Gos & Gris.
Salerno employs 185 people among the three locations.
Gay Lea Foods, founded in 1958, is Ontario's largest dairy cooperative, with 1,200 members and 650 employees.
"This acquisition will allow Gay Lea to establish relationships with new customers and to build on existing partnerships with new offerings and opportunities," Andrew MacGillivray, president and chief executive officer of Gay Lea Foods, said.
Meanwhile, DFA announced that Oakhurst will become a wholly owned subsidiary of DFA and will continue to operate independently.
The Bennett family, which has owned Oakhurst since 1921, and the existing management team will continue to manage the day-to-day operations. John Bennett and Tom Brigham will continue in their role as co-presidents.
According to Oakhurst chairman of the board Bill Bennett, "For more than 90 years and three generations, my family has worked hard to build a strong local brand that Maine families trust. We are pleased to entrust the farm families of Dairy Farmers of America to continue our commitment."
Processing and bottling will continue at its Portland, Maine, location, and all 200 employees will retain their positions. Oakhurst will keep its pledge to not use artificial growth hormones in its milk and will continue to source its milk from the 70 independent Maine farmers who currently supply the company.
DFA operates as a milk marketing cooperative and a dairy processor with strategic investments in plants, products and partnerships that bring value to its farmer owners.
In the past few years, the cooperative has increased its investments in the fluid milk and ice cream category by purchasing other regional dairy processing facilities and brands, including Guida's Dairy in Connecticut, Kemps in Minnesota and Dairy Maid Dairy in Maryland. These local brands continue to run and function as separate, independent businesses.