Dairy Farmers of America announced in November that it is acquiring 100% of DairiConcepts (https://www.dairiconcepts.com), a 15-year-old joint venture with the New Zealand-based dairy cooperative Fonterra.

Also in November, an Austin, Texas-based private equity firm acquired Berner Food & Beverage LLC, a co-manufacturer of shelf-stable, dairy-based food products and beverages.

Fonterra Co-operative Group Limited and Kansas City, Mo.-based DFA have been 50-50 partners in DairiConcepts since forming the joint venture in 2000. DairiConcepts will play a “key role” in DFA’s strategy to further grow its ingredients division and extend its global marketing outreach, according to a DFA statement.

Fonterra said it is selling its 50% interest for about NZD$196 million (about US$130.1 million).

In its statement announcing the deal, Fonterra said had decided to exit the partnership as it was considered to be “a non-core component of its strategy.”
Fonterra will remain a key customer of DairiConcepts, which will operate as a wholly owned subsidiary of DFA once the sale is final on Dec. 31. DairiConcepts is a manufacturer of cheese, dairy ingredients and dairy flavor systems with eight facilities across the United States.

“Our relationship with Fonterra remains strong,” said Rick Smith, DFA President and Chief Executive Officer. “DairiConcepts has historically generated strong returns for our farmer-owners, and we look forward to continuing to strengthen the business and expand markets for our members’ milk.”

“We still value our relationship with DFA, however, as the DairiConcepts business is almost completely stand-alone operationally, we have agreed that it would be simpler for one of the partners to buy the other out,” said Fonterra CEO Theo Spierings.

Peak Rock Capital buys Berner Food & Beverage

An affiliate of Peak Rock Capital, an Austin, Texas based private equity firm, announced in November that it acquired Berner Food & Beverage LLC of Dakota, Ill. Founded in 1943, Berner is a co-manufacturer of shelf-stable, dairy-based food products and beverages. It ranks No. 69 on the 2015 Dairy Foods Dairy 100, an annual list of the largest dairy processors in North America. Estimated 2014 sales were $254.9 million.

Berner makes private label cheese dips, salsa con queso, alfredo sauce, aerosol cheese products and coffee- and latte-based beverages for consumer packaged goods companies and private label retailers. It operates an SQF2000 Level 3 manufacturing facility near Rockford, Ill.
Steve Kneubuehl is Berner’s CEO and Edward Kneubuehl is the chief operating officer. The company exhibited at the 2015 Private Label Trade Show in Rosemont, Ill., in November.

Peak Rock Capital CEO Anthony DiSimone said in a statement, "Our acquisition of Berner highlights Peak Rock's continued desire to invest in industry leading food businesses where we can leverage the extensive sector experience of our principals and an experienced management team to drive growth and operational improvements."