Lactalis Group ("Lactalis"), the world's leading dairy group, today announced that its U.S. affiliate has completed its previously announced acquisition of The Kraft Heinz Company's natural, specialty and certain other cheese businesses in the United States, grated cheese business in Canada and entire international cheese business outside the United States and Canada. The companies entered into a definitive agreement on September 15, 2020.
With this acquisition, Lactalis acquires a portfolio of iconic cheese brands that includes Cracker Barrel®, Breakstone's®, Knudsen®, Hoffman's® and a perpetual license for the use of the Kraft® brand in natural, grated and international cheeses. Lactalis also acquires the Cheez Whiz® brand outside the United States, Canada, Mexico, Venezuela and the Philippines and a license for the use of the Velveeta® brand in natural and international cheeses. The acquisition includes approximately 750 employees and three production facilities located in Tulare, CA, Walton, NY and Wausau, WI.
The acquired businesses in the United States will operate as Lactalis Heritage Dairy, a newly formed division of Lactalis based in Chicago, IL. Lactalis will invest significant resources in Lactalis Heritage Dairy employees and plants to continue growing this new business. The acquired businesses located outside of the United States will be integrated into existing Lactalis operations in countries where they currently reside.
"Incorporating this iconic portfolio of beloved brands into the Lactalis family creates important new opportunities for business development, product innovation, and positive community, consumer, and employee impact," said Lactalis North America CEO, Gilles Meziere. "With this acquisition, we are advancing our growth strategy across North America and strengthening our position in the attractive U.S. cheese market. We look forward to the exceptional opportunities ahead for our customers, our employees and each of the communities in which we serve."
"We're thrilled to bring our extraordinary teams together, learn from each other and continue to build on our deep, shared expertise in cheese as we grow this strong portfolio of brands that consumers love and trust," said Peter Cotter, chief executive officer of Lactalis Heritage Dairy and former Kraft Heinz executive. "We are committed to delivering healthy and delicious products to consumers by focusing on quality and innovation, advancing responsible manufacturing and sourcing practices, and great service for our customers and expanded opportunities for our employees. Now together as one family with a passion for cheese, we're looking forward to an even brighter future as Lactalis Heritage Dairy."
Lactalis previously announced two divestiture transactions – the Athenos brand to be sold to Emmi Roth USA, Inc. and the Polly-O brand to be sold to BelGioioso Cheese, Inc. – in fulfilment of conditions identified during antitrust review of the acquisition by the U.S. Department of Justice. These two transactions will close on or about November 30, 2021.
About Lactalis Group
Lactalis Group, the world's leading dairy group, is a French-family business founded in 1933 in Laval, France. Present in 52 countries with 270 manufacturing facilities throughout the world, its 85,000 employees promote milk in all its forms: cheese, drinking milk, yogurts, butters and creams, dairy ingredients and nutrition. At the heart of the daily lives of millions of households, Lactalis Group offers products from emblematic brands such as Président®, Galbani® and Parmalat® and is committed to perpetuating its dairy know-how as the world's leading player in Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) cheeses.
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