US dairy co-op Maryland & Virginia Milk Producers Cooperative Association has snapped up the Hunter Farms dairy processing plant from regional grocer Harris Teeter.

Located in High Point in North Carolina, the co-op said the factory would “strengthen our value-added business” and expand its production base in the south-east of the country.

Maryland & Virginia Milk Producers Cooperative comprises 900 dairy farm families in 13 states. It markets products under the Maola brand. The co-op owns two processing facilities in Virginia and another pair in Maryland.

“The purchase of the Hunter Farms dairy processing plant is a long-term investment and growth opportunity for our cooperative in the High Point community,” CEO Jay Bryant said. “We are excited to strengthen our value-added business and expand our cooperative’s processing footprint in the south east. With our five processing plants working in cooperation, we are establishing ourselves as the premier sustainable choice for dairy on the east coast.”

Harris Teeter, owned by giant US retailer Kroger since 2013, runs stores in seven US states, plus the District of Columbia.

According to the Hunter Farms website, Harris Teeter purchased the then Hunter Dairy facility in Charlotte in 1980. A decade later, the retailer acquired the Borden Dairy plant in High Point and, in 2002, both were consolidated into the High Point facility.

“Hunter Farms is a unique part of the Harris Teeter business as it is not only Harris Teeter’s sole dairy resource and a very recognisable and beloved brand in our stores but it also supplies dairy products to other major retail and restaurant chains across the south-eastern United States,” Danna Robinson, communication manager at Harris Teeter, said.

“Hunter Farms’ successful and recognisable ice cream and beverage brands will continue to be featured on Harris Teeter’s shelves, and our valued associates will be retained and offered comparable positions with the new owner.”

According to the Hunter Farms website, the dairy’s other customers include foodservice chains Hardee’s and Wendy’s.

Almost 160 staff work at Hunter Farms. The deal is expected to be finalised on Monday (30 August).