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Fonterra to buy stake in US whey protein business Columbia River Technologies

FBR Staff Writer Published 07 November 2017

New Zealand dairy giant Fonterra Co-operative Group is acquiring a stake in US-based Columbia River Technologies, a whey protein concentrate and lactose manufacturer, for an undisclosed price.

Columbia River Technologies was founded in 2013 as a joint venture (JV) between American dairy co-operative Tillamook County Creamery Association (TCCA) and dairy processor Threemile Canyon Farms.

With the transaction, Fonterra joins TCCA and Threemile in the JV as an equal owner.

Through its stake in the JV, Fonterra expects to cater to the increasing demand for ingredients like whey protein from places outside New Zealand.

The New Zealand dairy firm had been the exclusive sales agency for Columbia River’s whey protein products. The products are manufactured in Boardman, Oregon in a production facility near the satellite cheese making plant of TCCA.

According to Fonterra ingredients America regional director Joe Coote, joining the JV as an equal stakeholder is a natural progression of the company’s long-term relationship with TCCA and Threemile Canyon Farms.

Coote added: “The agreement reflects Fonterra’s move to develop a sustainable US-sourcing network, providing a reliable and efficient chain of supply, and complementing New Zealand-sourced ingredients for our sports and infant nutrition customers.”

The Columbia River joint venture was a result of the long-term milk supply agreements between TCCA and Threemile. It was set up to maximize efficiencies at TCCA’s cheesemaking plant and grow value from the natural whey and lactose by-products of the cheese manufacturing process.

TCCA president and CEO Patrick Criteser said that the JV is in line with the cooperative’s strategy to make responsible use of the by-products of its main cheese-manufacturing business and continue to provide value for its farmer-owners.

Criteser added: “We’re pleased to further strengthen our existing relationship with Fonterra, an organization that understands the cooperative mindset and brings significant expertise in the area of whey products.”

Image: Fonterra joins TCCA and Threemile in their whey protein joint venture. Photo: courtesy of Mattinbgn and Wikipedia.