Fonterra revealed today (29 April) that it has increased its holdings in Chilean dairy company Soprole.

The New Zealand dairy giant said that it has purchased an additional 42.6% of the company from Fundacion Isabel Aninat, bringing its total stake in the company to 99.45%.

The US$201.9m purchase has received final approval from the Vatican, Fonterra confirmed.

Fonterra’s CEO, Andrew Ferrier, said that the company was “very pleased” with Soprole’s performance, with more than 40% of sales coming from products introduced in the last three years.

 “By increasing our ownership, we will be able to build on this and look at ways we can grow the business even further. We want to continue that innovation drive and create new opportunities in the rapidly expanding South American dairy markets,” he said.

In February, Soprole posted 2007 profits of CLP23.8bn (US$51.36m), a year-on-year increase of 160%. 

Soprole has, on average, returned around NZ$25m (US$19.37m) a year to Fonterra shareholders over the past few years, the company added.

Chile is a high growth market for the production and consumption of dairy products. Soprole is the country’s leading consumer dairy product business with a share of more than one-third of the domestic consumer dairy market.