Vermont Creamery co-founders Bob Reese and Allison Hooper and Land O'Lakes Inc. president and chief executive officer Chris Policinski announced March 29 that their businesses have joined forces.
Vermont Creamery will become an independently operated subsidiary of Minnesota-based Land O'Lakes. It will continue to produce its award-winning fresh and aged goat cheese, cultured butter and fresh dairy at the creamery in Websterville, Vt.
"We have always taken seriously our commitment to our farmers, employees and Vermont's working landscape; these values are at the core of our decision to sell the business," Hooper said. "As we experience unprecedented growth, we need a partner who can bring the resources and expertise necessary to help us realize our vision and the potential of our business."
Chris Policinski, Land O'Lakes president and chief executive officer, said, "We purchased Vermont Creamery and welcome them to the Land O'Lakes family because we love their brand and would like to help bring it to even more people. We share a value-added, branded approach to marketing our products, a meaningful respect for our customers and deeply rooted rural values."
Hooper and Reese, who founded the business in 1984, said Land O'Lakes is the ideal new owner. Land O'Lakes is a farmer-owned food and agricultural cooperative that has been in operation for more than 95 years. Widely known for its iconic butter brand, it is a diverse business that also includes Purina Animal Nutrition and WinField United.
"Vermont Creamery's heritage mirrors our own here at Land O'Lakes — a company founded by people who care about bringing the highest-quality products from farm to fork," said Beth Ford, Land O'Lakes group executive vice president and chief operating officer. "We are excited about the culture of product innovation they have built in addition to the category itself and the opportunities for even more expansion."
After years of thoughtful planning and a rigorous selection process, Reese said he and Hooper are confident that they have found the best steward for their business, values and people. “We are both respected dairy brands with deep connections to farmers and an unyielding commitment to quality and innovation. We look forward to this opportunity to tell our story more broadly and increase access to our high-quality dairy products,” he said.
Reese and Hooper will serve as trusted advisors and brand ambassadors for the business. President Adeline Druart and the leadership team will remain in place, as will all employees of Vermont Creamery.
Ayers Brook Goat Dairy was not included in the transaction. The Hooper family will retain ownership of the farm, which will continue to serve as a key supplier to the creamery and catalyst for the growth of the goat dairy industry in Vermont. The terms of the acquisition were not disclosed.
Founded at a time when Americans rarely ate goat cheese, Vermont Creamery has grown over nearly 35 years to be a premiere producer of fresh and aged goat cheese, crème fraîche and cultured butter. With hundreds of awards and burgeoning national distribution, Vermont Creamery is respected as a pioneer of the artisan cheese-making movement in the U.S. In 2014, Vermont Creamery was the second cheese-maker in the world to earn B Corp certification and will maintain this certification and commitment to its community, employees and the environment under new ownership.