Land O’Lakes Inc. and the Beatrice Group, a division of ConAgra, Inc., today announced that Land O’Lakes acquired a Beatrice cheese plant located in Gustine, Calif. Terms of the acquisition were not disclosed.

There are 169 employees at the 70,000 square-foot facility, which produces mozzarella and cream cheese. Acquisition of the Gustine plant by Land O’Lakes will benefit Land O’Lakes’ value-added cheese business and reflects the national food and agricultural cooperative’s growing West Coast presence, Land O’Lakes officials said today.

“This acquisition benefits the mozzarella and cream cheese businesses, both of which exhibit solid growth and earnings potential,” said Jack Prince, executive vice president and chief operating officer for Land O’Lakes Industrial Group. “The increased production this acquisition brings to our system, particularly in mozzarella, reflects our focus on efficiently serving our needs. This acquisition will also enable us to diversify our cream cheese production by introducing a variety of new package sizes.”

Land O’Lakes’ Tulare, Calif., facility manufactures cheese, whey, butter/powder and other dairy products in the nation’s largest milk receiving facility. Additionally, Land O’Lakes Inc. operates a cheese plant in Orland, Calif.

Under terms of the sale, Land O’Lakes will enter a co-packing agreement for cream cheese with Beatrice.

“Beatrice has reviewed its operations and enhanced its efficiencies as a result of Operation Overdrive, a companywide initiative designed to focus on value-added segments of our business,” said Rich Scalise, Beatrice president and chief operating officer. Value-added segments for Beatrice include cream cheese and specialty cheeses.

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Scalise noted that Beatrice remains in the cheese business and will continue to operate in the retail, foodservice and industrial segments with major brands such as Treasure Cave, County Line, Pauly, Munchee and Nikos, to name a few.

“We see this sale as a positive both for Beatrice and its customers. Land O’Lakes has a solid reputation for product quality, and with our co-packing arrangement, products produced at this facility will continue to be made under our brand name. That means we will continue to provide the reliable, high-quality products and service that our customers have come to expect from us,” said Scalise.

Land O’Lakes officials indicated current plant operations and service to existing customers will continue.

Land O’Lakes (http://www.landolakesinc.com) is a national, farmer-owned food and agricultural cooperative, with sales approaching $6 billion. Land O’Lakes does business in all fifty states and more than fifty countries. It is a leading marketer of a full line of dairy-based consumer, foodservice and food ingredient products across the U.S.; services its international customers with a variety of food and animal feed ingredients; and provides farmers and local cooperatives with an extensive line of agricultural supplies (feed, seed, crop nutrient and crop protection products) and services.

The Beatrice Group is a division of ConAgra, Inc., (NYSE: CAG), a $25 billion food company employing 85,000 people worldwide. ConAgra is North America’s largest foodservice manufacturer and second largest retail food supplier.