Dairy Processor News

Emmi acquires Roth Käse USA

January 8, 2009
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Swiss milk processor Emmi has acquired U.S.-based specialty cheese company Roth Käse USA Ltd. Since 2006, Emmi has been a strategic partner with a minority stake in Roth Käse USA, which is growing strongly in the U.S. cheese market, especially in the foodservice sector.

Emmi has been successfully marketing Swiss cheese in the United States for years. Both companies are joining forces to continue growth in the retail and foodservice sectors with

Swiss premium cheese and American specialties. The parties have agreed not to disclose

the purchase price.

Emmi plans to reinforce its market position as the leading producer of Swiss cheese around the world, with a special focus on Italy, Germany and the United States. Upon its total acquisition of the company, based in Monroe, Wis., effective Jan. 1, Emmi will hold 100% of the shares in Roth Käse USA Ltd.

Roth Käse is among the 10 leading U.S. companies that produce and market domestic cheese specialties, with its main focus on the foodservice sector. It employs some 125 people and books sales upwards of $90 million.

For many years, Emmi has been a successful importer of Swiss cheese in the United States, where it also markets premium yogurt manufactured by a partner company. For about a year, Emmi has been producing Emmi Caffè Latte in New York. It is currently being test-marketed in multiple regions. Emmi’s sales on the U.S. target market total approximately $90 million. Upon acquisition of Roth Käse, the United States will become Emmi’s largest foreign market.

Both companies are focused on joint growth, but will continue to operate as separate entities in the future. Emmi holds a strong position in the retail sector with Swiss cheese, primarily Le Gruyère AOC and other specialties such as Emmi Kaltbach Cave-Aged. Roth Käse, meanwhile, has a solid market standing with American delicacies in the growing foodservice industry. Their cooperation over the last three years has revealed that, with a broader, more balanced product range, Emmi and Roth Käse can fortify their position while increasing sales opportunities for the entire product line throughout all distribution channels.

The acquisition of Roth Käse taps new sales channels for the Swiss cheese line in the foodservice sector. The U.S. cheese market is worth around $16.4 billion, with specialty cheeses accounting for around $1 billion of this amount. The segment posted above-average growth of 15 percent last year. For Emmi, the acquisition of the U.S. cheese specialist is therefore “a logical step in our strategy and creates a solid foundation for expanding our foodservice segment,” CEO Urs Riedener explained.

In January 2006, Emmi purchased a minority shareholding in Roth Käse and has been its partner for three years. Fruitful cooperation, Roth Käse’s steady growth over the past few years, promising long-term growth prospects on the U.S. market and the desire of the majority shareholders to shape a common future with Emmi were catalysts of

the acquisition. “We feel that Emmi is an ideal partner and will complement our product range very nicely. We are confident that our company will flourish with Emmi in the future, thanks to 2/2 multiple synergies,” said Fermo Jaeckle, one of Roth Käse’s founders and its largest shareholder.

Jaeckle and Steve McKeon will continue to manage Roth Käse’s operational business in 2009. Both will also remain on the company’s advisory board for the long term.

Roth Käse USA Ltd. was founded in 1991 by Fermo Jaeckle and Felix and Ulrich Roth with the aim of producing high-quality specialty cheeses and distributing them in the U.S. market. The company employs some 125 people and is among the 100 largest milk processing plants in the United States. Over the past few years, Roth Käse has won more than 100 awards in regional, national and international competitions.

Emmi is the largest Swiss milk processor and one of the most innovative premium dairies in Europe. In Switzerland, Emmi focuses on the development, production and marketing of a full range of dairy and fresh products as well as the production, ageing and trade of primarily Swiss cheeses. Outside Switzerland, Emmi concentrates on brand concepts and specialties in European and North American markets. The primary focus in fresh products is on lifestyle, convenience and health products. In the cheese business, Emmi positions itself as the leading company worldwide for Swiss cheese. Emmi’s customers are primarily the retail trade, the foodservice sector and the food industry. In the first half of 2008, Emmi achieved net sales of CHF 1.3 billion and employed a total of 3,351 people (full-time equivalents) in Switzerland and abroad.

For more information on Roth Käse, visit www.rothkase.com.

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