Dairy Farmers of America continues regional M&A drive

Dairy Farmers of America continues regional M&A drive

Dairy Farmers of America has acquired Maine-based milk processor Oakhurst for an undisclosed sum. 

The business will continue to operate as a stand-along subsidiary of Dairy Farmers of America under current co-presidents John Bennett and Tom Brigham.

Oakhurst has been owned and operated by the Bennett family for more than 90 years. Commenting on the decision to sell, chairman Bill Bennett said it was a "big decision" for the family, but one which was "best for the furute of the company".

"Farmer-owned Dairy Farmers of America understands the importance of supporting local farmers and our community and has the financial strength to fuel new opportunities for growth and improvements in our Maine and New England operations," he said.

Oakhurt will continue to source its milk from the 70 independent Maine farmers that currently supply the group and it will remain committed to not using artificial growth hormone in its milk. All 200 of Oakhurst's current employees will retain their jobs, the company added. 

Dairy Farmers of America is a national farmers cooperative. The group has expanded its regional presence in the fluid milk and ice cream categories through a number of recent acquisitions, including Guida's Dairy in Connecticut, Kemps in Minnesota and Dairy Maid Dairy in Maryland. These local brands continue to function as independent businesses, Dairy Farmers of America said. 

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Oakhurst Acquired by a Farmer Owned Cooperative

Company to Remain in Maine and Operate Independently January 31, 2014 Dairy Farmers of America It was announced today that Oakhurst was acquired by Dairy Farmers of America, a national dairy farmer-owned cooperative. Oakhurst will become a wholly owned subsidiary of Dairy Farmers of America and will continue to operate independently. The Bennett family, which has owned Oakhurst since 1921, and the existing management team will continue to manage the company's day-to-day operations. John Bennett and Tom Brigham will continue in their role as Co-Presidents.

According to Oakhurst Chairman of the Board Bill Bennett, "For more than 90 years and three generations, my family has worked hard to build a strong local brand that Maine families trust. We are pleased to entrust the farm families of Dairy Farmers of America to continue our commitment."
Bennett continued: "This was a big decision for our family, but we believe it is what's best for the future of the company. Farmer-owned Dairy Farmers of America understands the importance of supporting local farmers and our community and has the financial strength to fuel new opportunities for growth and improvements in our Maine and New England operations. Oakhurst will continue to contribute to organizations that support healthy kids and the environment."

All 200 employees at the company will retain their positions. Oakhurst will remain committed to its pledge not to use artificial growth hormone in its milk and will continue to source its milk from the 70 independent Maine farmers that currently supply the company. Processing and bottling will continue at the company's Portland, Maine location.

Bennett continued: "Oakhurst milk will continue to be Maine's milk and distributed throughout Northern New England. Nothing has changed but the ownership. I look forward to continuing my role as a strategic advisor to the company."

Dairy Farmers of America, operates as a milk marketing cooperative and a dairy processor with strategic investments in plants, products and partnerships that bring value to its farmer owners. In the past few years, the Cooperative has increased its investments in the fluid milk and ice cream category by purchasing other regional dairy processing facilities and brands including Guida's Dairy in Connecticut, Kemps in Minnesota and Dairy Maid Dairy in Maryland. These local brands continue to run and function as separate, independent businesses.

"The Bennett family has established Oakhurst as a trusted local brand known for its long-lasting commitment to quality, integrity and freshness," said Alan Bernon, President of Dairy Farmers of America's Affiliate Division.

"We are pleased to have them join us and are glad the Bennett family will continue to manage operations. As a company committed to doing the right thing for their suppliers, customers, employees and community, the Oakhurst and Dairy Farmers of America values align."

Original source: Dairy Farmers of America