Welcome to Jim Carper's Dairy Case blog, a weekly round-up of the people, processors and products making the news. In this issue: Sonoma Creamery, Organic Valley, Friendly Ice Cream, Nestle, Tillamook and more.

Estate Cheese Group LLC acquired Sonoma Creamery LLC , formerly Sonoma Foods Inc., producer of the Sonoma Jack and Sonoma Cheese brands.
"We intend to grow the company and build on Sonoma's longstanding heritage of innovation, quality and expertly crafted cheeses," said John Crean, President & CEO of ECG and Sonoma Creamery.
Sonoma's David Viviani, Vice President of Marketing and grandson of co-founder Celso Viviani; and Lou Biaggi, Vice President of Operations, a 30-year cheesemaker for the company will remain with company.

Organic Valley, LaFarge, Wis., said sales in 2011 increased to $715 million (15.3%) from $620 million. The nation's largest cooperative of organic farmers and a leading organic brand, also announced it brought on 212 new farmers for a 12% member growth.
Organic Valley said it achieved sustainability and job creation goals in 2011, such as beginning installation of wind turbines to offset 100% of its distribution center’s current electricity use, on-farm renewable energy projects and other sustainability initiatives, and undergoing a state-of-the-art green-designed headquarters expansion in La Farge, Wis., that is expected to add 84 new jobs this year. In 2011 alone, the farmer-owned cooperative brought 79 new jobs to Vernon County, Wis., bringing total employees up to 620.

Friendly Ice Cream Corp. announced Jan. 9 that it has emerged from its voluntary Chapter 11 by consummating the sale of its business to Friendly's Ice Cream, LLC and its subsidiaries.

Nestle (China) Co. announced on Jan. 11, that it signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the mayor of Shuangcheng, China to jointly develop the modern dairy farming industry. Under the agreement, a total investment of RMB 2.5 billion will be made in the milk district over the next five years through a partnership between Nestle, the local government, investors and farmers. The partnership will promote high quality and efficient dairy farming methods using modern technology and professional knowledge.

Gary Hirshberg
stepped down as CEO of Stonyfield after 28 years. Walt Freese, the former CEO of Ben & Jerry's, will succeed him. Hirshberg will become chairman of the board.

Davisco Foods International said Jon Davis was named President and Chief Executive Officer.

Organic Valley named Lewis Goldstein as the co-op's new executive marketing director.

Candy York is the new director of product development for Future Food Brands (Salads of the Sea and Santa Barbara Bay) a processor of dairy dips, salads and spreads.

Tillamook light yogurtFarmer-owned dairy co-op Tillamook is selling a light yogurt sweetened with stevia. The 10-flavor line is made with no artificial growth hormones, no artificial flavors, no artificial colors, no artificial sweeteners and no high fructose corn syrup. The 6-oz. yogurt cups contain 110 calories per serving (35% less than regular low-fat yogurt). The suggested retail price is 85 cents. Flavors are Oregon Strawberry, Vanilla Bean, Marionberry, Raspberry, Peach, Mountain Huckleberry, Northwest Berry Patch, Pomegranate Blackberry, Lemon Squeeze and Dark Cherry.