Vermont Creamery Co-Founders Bob Reese and Allison Hooper and Land O’Lakes, Inc. President and CEO Chris Policinski announced today that their businesses have joined forces. Vermont Creamery will become an independently operated subsidiary of Minnesota-based Land O’Lakes. It will, for the foreseeable future, continue to make its varied, award winning products at the creamery in Websterville, Vermont.
“We have always taken seriously our commitment to our farmers, employees and Vermont’s working landscape—these values are at the core of our decision to sell the business,” said co-founder Allison Hooper. “As we experience unprecedented growth, we need a partner who can bring the resources and expertise necessary to help us realize our vision and the potential of our business.”
“We purchased Vermont Creamery and welcome them to the Land O’Lakes family because we love their brand and would like to help bring it to even more people,” said Chris Policinski, Land O’Lakes president and CEO. “We share a value-added, branded approach to marketing our products, a meaningful respect for our customers and deeply rooted rural values.”
I know when announcements such as these come about, fans of the purchased company get nervous, especially when the purchaser is a giant like Land O’Lakes. I have friend who simply loves the butter and other dairy products produced by Land O’Lakes, but it is a massive agribusiness and many don’t trust them.
Vermont Creamery, in their 32nd year of business, supports a network of more than 20 family farms, promoting sustainable agriculture in the region. They also founded Ayers Brook Goat Dairy, the United State’s first demonstration goat dairy. Combining the European tradition of cheesemaking with Vermont’s respected terroir, Vermont Creamery’s line of fresh and aged goat cheeses, cultured butter, and crème fraîche have won over 100 national and international awards.
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Hooper and Reese, who founded Vermont Creamery in 1984, say, as one would expect at the beginning of such a partnership, that Land O’Lakes is the ideal new owner. A farmer-owned food and agricultural cooperative, Land O’Lakes has been in operation for more than 95 years. Best known for its iconic butter brand, it is a diverse agribusiness that also includes Purina Animal Nutrition and WinField United.
“Vermont Creamery’s heritage mirrors our own here at Land O’Lakes—a company founded by people who care about bringing the highest quality products from farm to fork,” said Beth Ford, Land O’Lakes group EVP and COO. “We are excited about the culture of product innovation they have built in addition to the category itself and the opportunities for even more expansion.”
“After years of thoughtful planning and a rigorous selection process, we are confident that we have found the best steward of our business, values and people in Land O’Lakes. We are both respected dairy brands with deep connections to farmers and an unyielding commitment to quality and innovation. We look forward to this opportunity to tell our story more broadly and increase access to our high-quality dairy products,” co-founder Bob Reese added.
Reese and Hooper will serve as trusted advisors and brand ambassadors for the business. President Adeline Druart and the leadership team will remain in place as will all employees of the business. It should be noted that the Ayers Brook Goat Dairy is not included in the transaction. The Hooper family will retain ownership of the farm, which will continue to serve as a key supplier to the creamery and catalyst for the growth of the goat dairy industry in Vermont. The terms of the acquisition will not be disclosed.
Adeline Druart, president of Vermont Creamery remarked, “Bob and Allison have been such incredible entrepreneurs building Vermont Creamery’s success and mentoring the team on their vision and values for the business. Partnering with Land O’Lakes adds the next key ingredients for our growth: additional resources and dairy expertise. This transaction positions Vermont Creamery for continued success in the future.”
As with all such transactions, time will tell how things turn out for the quality products at Vermont Creamery.