Farmer-owned co-op Land O’Lakes joins up with Vermont Creamery

The Minnesota-based co-op says it will use its rural values and marketing expertise to bring the brand to more people

Land O’Lakes, one of the biggest co-ops in the US, has acquired award-winning dairy Vermont Creamery which will run as an independently operated subsidiary.

The Minnesota-based co-op’s chief executive and president Chris Policinski announced the move alongside by Bob Reese and Allison Hooper, co-founders of the creamery, which will continue to produce its goat cheeses, cultured butter and fresh dairy from Websterville, Vermont.

Ms Hooper said Land O’Lakes would “bring the resources and expertise necessary to help us realise our vision and the potential of our business” at a time of “unprecedented growth”.

She added: “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.”

Mr Policinski said: “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.”

Land O’ Lakes chief Chris Policinski

Farmer-owned Land O’Lakes 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.

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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.”

At Vermont, Mr Reese and Ms Hooper will continue to serve as advisors and brand ambassadors, and retain ownership of the family farm which will continue as the creamery’s cream supplier, with the leadership team and workforce remaining in place.

“We are both respected dairy brands with deep connections to farmers and an unyielding commitment to quality and innovation,” said Mr Reese. “We look forward to this opportunity to tell our story more broadly and increase access to our high-quality dairy products.”

Adeline Druart, president of Vermont Creamery, said: “Bob and Allison have been such incredible entrepreneurs building Vermont Creamery’s success and mentoring the team on their vision and values for the business.

“Partnering with Land O’Lakes adds the next key ingredients for our growth: additional resources and dairy expertise. This transaction positions Vermont Creamery for continued success in the future.”

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.

In 2014, it was the second cheesemaker in the world to earn B Corp certification and will maintain this certification and commitment to their community, employees and environment under new ownership.

Land O’Lakes notched up sales of $13bn, and ranks 215 on the Fortune 500. It  does business in all 50 states and more than 60 countries.

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