Cypress Grove Chevre Acquired By Swiss Company – August 20, 2010

Friday, August 20, 2010

ARCATA BOTTOM – Arcata cheese maker Cypress Grove Chevre has been acquired by Emmi, a $2.6 billion Swiss company 51 percent owned by a cooperative of farmers and dairy operators. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Cypress Grove Sales Manager Bob McCall said that the Arcata Bottom manufacturing facility, which directly employes more than 40 people, will continue to operate and even be upgraded soon. He said Emmi appreciates Cypess Grove’s unique culture, and won’t dilute the brand.

“Humboldt Fog will be made in Humboldt County and Cypress Grove stays in Arcata,” McCall said. “We’re kind of the jewel in their crown.”

Cypress Grove’s press release

Northern California Cheesemaker Will Maintain Current Leadership and Location Under New Ownership
Arcata, CALIF. – Cypress Grove Chevre Founder Mary Keehn announced today her company has been purchased by Emmi Holding (USA) Inc. For Cypress Grove Chevre, maker of award-winning goat cheeses since 1983, operations will continue with their current leadership and in the same location in Humboldt County, California.
Emmi, founded as a dairy owned cooperative in 1907, is the largest milk processor in Switzerland. Emmi-Roth Käse USA is a leading manufacturer, importer and marketer of high-end specialty cheeses and fresh dairy products.
“We have been approached several times in recent years by companies that wanted to purchase us, but it was never the right time or fit” said Keehn. “In Emmi we have found a partner that shares our values and commitment to quality and offers us the resources
to invest in our creamery, our employees and our local farms. We will be able to continue doing what we do well and even improve in the areas of quality and innovation.”
“Together we have more opportunities for growth and success,” said Fermo Jaeckle, CEO of Emmi-Roth Käse USA. “As cheese makers, we are committed to American-made
artisan cheeses, and goat cheeses have played a leading role in the remarkable growth of this category.”
Keehn said that ensuring a successful future for Cypress Grove was first and foremost in her mind when making the decision to sell the company she started, nurtured and grew
to become one of the most highly regarded goat cheese brands in the US. “It was a difficult, but very good decision for the future of the company, our employees, the local farms and the quality of our products,” said Keehn, who will be able to spend more time exploring new styles of cheeses and developing new products. “I have so many ideas, but we’ve been limited by time and resources. This infusion of expertise and capital will allow us to explore new avenues and grow in a healthy manner.”

Emmi’s press release

Cypress Grove is a renowned producer and the best-known brand in the US for fresh and ripened premium goat’s cheese specialties. Emmi has also increased its stake in CASP (Contract Aseptic & Specialty Packaging) LLC in Penn Yan, New York, to 100%. CASP specialises in contract manufacturing of aseptic milk products and forms an important pillar in Emmi’s fresh products business in the US.

As the leading supplier of Swiss cheese and fresh dairy products, Emmi plans to continue its growth, focusing in particular on the Italian, German, Austrian, UK and US markets. The acquisition of Cypress Grove Chèvre with effect from 19 August 2010 (PST) or 20 August 2010 (CET) is an important step in this direction. The company is based in Arcata, California, and is a leading US manufacturer of fresh and ripened goat’s cheese specialties in the premium segment. Since its inception in 1983, Cypress Grove cheeses have won numerous awards at international trade fairs and competitions. Cypress Grove Chèvre employs 45 people and has a turnover of approx. USD 10 million. The company’s founder, Mary Keehn, is looking forward to working with Emmi: “Emmi is the ideal partner for Cypress Grove. The synergies in marketing cheese specialties from Switzerland and the US will help to strengthen the presence of the Cypress Grove Chèvre brand and further develop our site in Arcata.”

Urs Riedener, CEO of Emmi, on the acquisition: “Cypress Grove Chèvre’s premium cheese specialties will be an ideal complement to our US product range. The expanded product line will allow us to strengthen our position in our largest foreign market, the US.”

The US cheese market is around USD 16.4 billion, with the fast-growing speciality cheese segment – in which goat’s cheese plays an increasingly important role – accounts for around USD 1 billion.

One of the products manufactured by the Penn Yan, New York-based company CASP (Contract Aseptic & Specialty Packaging) LLC is the Caffè Latte Emmi sells in the US market. The company employs 23 people and has a turnover of approximately USD 6 million. Thanks to its total acquisition of CASP, Emmi now has its own production facility for fresh products in the US that will manufacture both Emmi Caffè Latte and, in future, the Emmi premium yoghurts already sold in the US market. This will ensure Emmi’s high quality standards for the long term and allow it to achieve additional growth.

Emmi can finance the acquisition of Cypress Grove Chèvre and the complete takeover of CASP using current funds and credit lines. The contractual parties have agreed not to disclose details of the purchase price.

CEO Urs Riedener adds: “In 2009, Emmi generated sales of around USD 175 million in the US. The investments in Cypress Grove Chèvre and CASP are important steps to strengthen our position in the US market in line with our international growth strategy.”

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