U.S. dairy processor Franklin Foods Holdings, a leading cream cheese maker, has been sold to Hochland SE, a privately held cheese company based in Bavaria, Germany. Terms were not disclosed.

Jon Gutknecht, a partner and the president and CEO of Franklin Foods, based in Delray Beach, Fla., will continue to lead Franklin and maintain an interest in the new venture. 

Cream cheese manufacturer operates 2 dairy plants

Franklin Foods operates manufacturing facilities in Casa Grande, Ariz., Enosburg Falls, Vt. The company is a Safe Quality Foods Level 3 Certified cream cheese manufacturer. See our articles from June 2015.

Dairy Foods visited Franklin Foods and toured its Arizona facility in 2015. Read “Franklin Foods wants to make cream cheese new again” and "Franklin Foods hits the jackpot in the desert."

It serves every food industry segment, conducts business throughout the United States and numerous international markets, and employs over 220 people. It processes branded and private label products for foodservice and retail customers. Franklin Foods reported to Dairy Foods that its 2015 sales were $125 million. That put it just outside of the Dairy 100, this magazine’s annual ranking of the biggest dairy processors in North America.

Rocco Cardinale of Franklin Foods said that Franklin executives met members of the Hochland team at a tradeshow. Selling the company was not anticipated at the time.

“We began exploring ways to work together in a supplier/customer capacity. We soon realized that both companies were really aligned and our strengths complemented each other, and the existing Franklin platform is an ideal fit for Hochland's growth strategy, and Hochland would be the ideal strategic partner to continue Franklin's growth,” Cardinale told Dairy Foods via e-mail.

Franklin Foods will maintain brands Green Mountain Farms, Hahn’s

Franklin Foods will continue to operate independently as a wholly owned subsidiary of Hochland and maintain the identities of its brands, including Green Mountain Farms and Hahn’s.Franklin Foods has a 100-year heritage and Hochland celebrates its 90th anniversary this year.

According to Franklin Foods’ press release, Hochland SE is a family owned business based in Heimenkirch in the Allgäu. It has 10 production sites and a workforce of more than 4,200. In 2016, Hochland generated a turnover of roughly 1.2 billion Euro ($1.3 billion). Hochland cheese is sold in over 30 countries.