News Wire

Kansas City, Mo.-based Dairy Farmers of America Inc. (DFA) has sold Southern Belle Dairy Co. LLC to Prairie Farms Dairy Inc., Carlinville, Ill., thus resolving the anti-trust lawsuit filed against DFA by the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Commonwealth of Kentucky. The April 2003 lawsuit alleged that DFA’s acquisition of a partial, non-managerial ownership interest in Southern Belle lessened competition for the sale of milk to schools in parts of eastern Kentucky and Tennessee. DFA won summary judgment in district court in August 2004, but the ruling was overturned the following year and sent back for trial. DFA disagreed that competition was impacted but agreed to divest its interest in Southern Belle to “bring closure to this matter,” according to a press release.
John Cutter has resigned as president and chief executive officer of Wilbraham, Mass.-based Friendly Ice Cream Corp., leaving temporary leadership of the ice cream manufacturer in the hands of its chairman, Donald Smith. Cutter has led the company, which also operates a chain of more than 500 casual dining restaurants in the northeastern United States, since February 2003, after serving as president and chief operating officer starting in December 1998. Smith has served as Friendly’s board chairman since 1988 and preceded Cutter as CEO from 1988 to 2003, during which time company co-founder S. Prestley Blake (the company’s largest individual shareholder) filed a lawsuit accusing Smith of funneling money into another restaurant company. Cutter resigned “to pursue other interests,” the company announced, declining to elaborate. Read more about Friendly’s in our January 2006 issue, archived at www.dairyfield.com.
Stonyfield France has been created as the result of a small entrepreneurial working group within Groupe Danone, inspired by the approach to marketing and environmental mission of Gary Hirshberg, the chairman, president and chief executive officer of Stonyfield Farm Inc., Londonderry, N.H.  “This group started thinking about ways to learn from Stonyfield Farm and offer new opportunities for organic dairy farmers in France, whose market is growing, but remains limited to something of a special interest group,” says Franck Riboud, chairman and chief executive officer of Groupe Danone, majority owner of Stonyfield Farm.
The Kroger Co., Cincinnati, has announced plans to expand its Jackson Dairy plant in Hutchinson, Kans., to add a new organic and soy milk production facility. The $14 million expansion, including new equipment and retrofitting a portion of the Jackson plant, is expected to take about a year to complete.
South Burlington, Vt.-based Ben & Jerry’s Homemade Holdings Inc. has announced it is switching to a new line of 100 percent corn-based cold drink cups for use in the company’s Scoop Shops starting this fall. The ecologically friendly cups are made from American-grown corn, are environmentally sustainable and are fully compostable in commercial or industrial facilities. Printed with Ben & Jerry’s unmistakable colorful cow and pasture scene, the two sizes of new cups replace traditional petroleum-based packaging for smoothies and frozen drinks.
The National Dairy Council has teamed up with the Sonic chain of drive-in eateries to give families a convenient way to help get their 3-A-Day of Dairy. Expanding on its Ultimate Drink Stop offerings, Sonic is introducing new lowfat (1%) white and chocolate milk in resealable 8-ounce plastic bottles. Sonic is the third quick-service restaurant chain to feature the 3-A-Day of Dairy logo on its milk packaging, indicating it is an excellent source of calcium. The single-serve milk, which is a new menu item and also can be ordered as a beverage option in Sonic’s Wacky Pack® Kids’ Meal at no additional charge, reminds consumers that delicious milk is as close as the nearest drive-in.
Glendale, Calif.-based Nestlé USA has broken ground on its new factory and distribution center in Anderson, Ind., slated to open in spring 2008. Expected to employ nearly 300 workers, the $359 million, 880,000-square-foot factory and distribution center will produce and distribute Nestlé® Nesquik® Ready-to-Drink and Nestlé Coffee-Mate® Liquid products.
Via Cheese LLC has announced it has agreed to buy the assets of Lucille Farms, a Swanton, Vt.-based manufacturer of mozzarella cheese that ceased operations in October 2005. Via intends to restart the plant this month plans to make mozzarella and other Italian cheeses at the facility. Via is a sister company of Franklin Foods, which annually makes approximately 25 million pounds of cream cheese products at its plant in Enosburg Falls, Vt.
Omaha, Neb.-based ConAgra Foods Inc. has announced plans to close five of its  manufacturing plants as part of a reorganization strategy to cut costs. Officials have said previously that as many as 12 plants could be closed and about 400 jobs eliminated as part of the plan.