Dairy Processor News

Swiss Valley Farms Acquires Faribault Dairy

August 5, 2010
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Swiss Valley Farms Cooperative has acquired Faribault Dairy Co., Inc., located in Faribault, Minn.  The sale includes the ownership of Faribault’s Blue cheese manufacturing facility as well as Faribault’s line of branded cheeses, the most popular of which is Amablu, along with its premium version, Amablu St. Pete’s Select, which is a cave-aged Blue cheese.

“This acquisition marks a significant step in our efforts to grow in the Blue cheese category,” said Don Boelens, chief executive officer of Davenport, Iowa-based Swiss Valley Farms.

The opportunity will provide Swiss Valley with yet another safe and secure market for its members’ milk supply while simultaneously increasing Blue cheese manufacturing capacity, Boelens says. The Faribault facility will allow for an immediate increase in production and serve as an excellent companion operation to Swiss Valley’s other Blue cheese plant in Mindoro, Wis.

The sale brings together the history, talent and resources of two of America’s most experienced blue cheesemakers. 

“It promises to be a good marriage,” said Jeff Jirik, one of the owners of Faribault Dairy Co. Jirik, who will take on his new role as vice president, Blue cheese division, believes becoming part of the Swiss Valley Farms family is the best way to continue the legacy of the Amablu brand, known as America’s First Blue Cheese. 

“This is great for the Faribault community, our employees and our long-term stability,” said Jirik, noting all former employees will be retained. 

Using the resources of Faribault, there are now new opportunities for Swiss Valley to age and distribute cheeses. The first is the use of sandstone caves, currently used by Faribault to age its Amablu brand cheeses. The second is the capability for online orders and shipment of cheeses via www.cheesecave.net, an online store developed by Faribault to distribute cheeses and cheese gift packages nationwide. The online store also has a brick and mortar retail counterpart in Faribault, Minn. 

The acquisition is part of a long-term plan to expand the focus on retail branded cheeses, including Swiss Valley’s Mindoro brand. 

“This decision confirms both organizations’ commitment to the growing artisanal blue cheese market,” Boelens said. 

“Working together to build brand equity in these quality products is the ultimate goal,” Jirik adds.

Faribault Dairy Co., Inc. was founded in 2001 to manufacture and market award-winning artisanal cheese from the Caves of Faribault. The company is best known for its Amablu brand, which has been the recipient of many national and international awards since its creation in 2002. The Cheese Cave, which serves as Faribault’s retail store, has both a physical and online presence and carries more than 40 premium cheese labels, as well as non-cheese items, including dry goods, meats and spreads. Faribault Dairy Co., Inc. is now a subsidiary of Swiss Valley Farms.

To learn more, visit www.faribaultdairy.com and www.cheesecave.net.

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