PepsiCo has struck a deal to buy a 66% stake in Russian dairy, baby food and juice manufacturer Wimm-Bill-Dann for US$3.8bn.

The US giant, which already has a growing presence in Russia, said the deal would make it the “largest food-and-beverage business” in the country.

PepsiCo chairman and CEO Indra Nooyi described Russia as a “fast-growing, strategically important market offering abundant opportunity”.

Nooyi said: “Adding Wimm-Bill-Dann to PepsiCo’s portfolio is financially attractive and gives us a strong, high-growth platform in the dairy category. At the same time, Wimm-Bill-Dann’s strong, value-added dairy business immediately advances our global nutrition strategy to provide consumers around the world nutritious foods and beverages that are accessible, affordable and advantaged by science.”

PepsiCo, a company renowned for its cola and food brands like Lay’s snacks and Quaker cereals, has identified the dairy business as a key plank in its bid to grow sales of “nutritional” products.

In October, the group announced plans to create a “global business group” to drive sales of nutritional products from $10bn today to $30bn by 2020.

PepsiCo has already teamed up with Saudi Arabian dairy firm Almarai Co. to target markets in south-east Asia, Africa and parts of the Middle East.

Nooyi said the Wimm-Bill-Dann deal will take its sales of “nutritious and functional foods” from $10bn to $13bn.

“Dairy has a huge, untapped potential to bridge snacks and beverages.  We see the emerging opportunity to snackify beverages and drinkify snacks as the next frontier in food and beverage convenience,” Nooyi said.

PepsiCo said it would look to buy the remaining shares in Wimm-Bill-Dann once its deal to take a 66% stake is completed.

Wimm-Bill-Dann is the largest producer of dairy products in Russia and the CIS. The company has 38 manufacturing sites across Russia, Ukraine and central Asia. In the year to the end of June, it generated revenues of $2.5bn.