Food and agribusiness cooperative Land O' Lakes, Arden Hills, Minn., has purchased Vermont Creamery, Montpelier, Vt. a leading artisanal cheese maker that has experienced growth and says it needs a partner to help it realize its business potential. Land O' Lakes announced the deal on March 29.
Vermont Creamery will become an independently operated subsidiary of Land O’Lakes, a member-based agricultural cooperative, and will continue to make goat cheese, cultured butter and fresh dairy in Websterville. Vermont Creamery co-founders Allison Hooper and Bob Reese said the creamery is "a good fit" for the Minnesota-based butter and cheese maker.
"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 CEO, said the company would like to bring the brand to even more people.
Hooper and Reese founded Vermont Creamery in 1984. Since then, the creamery has earned more than 100 national and international awards and Hooper was among eight pioneer goat cheese makers in the country inducted into the American Cheese Society Academy of Cheese for contributions to the growth in U.S. goat cheese.
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 the business. Ayers Brook Goat Dairy is 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.
Several other small, high quality U.S. cheese makers have been acquired recently by larger companies. Swiss dairy giant Emmi bought Redwood Hill Farm & Creamery in Sebastopol, Calif., in 2015, and Cowgirl Creamery in Point Reyes Station, California, in 2016.