Emmi ropes Cowgirl Creamery

by Monica Watrous
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Cowgirl Creamery artisan cheeses
Cowgirl Creamery produces soft, semi-hard and aged artisan specialty cheeses made with organic cow’s milk.

LUCERNE, SWITZERLAND — Emmi, the largest Swiss milk processor, has entered into a merger with Cowgirl Creamery Corp. and the associated Tomales Bay Foods, Inc., Petaluma, Calif. Financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

Founded in 1997, Tomales Bay Foods, Inc. and Cowgirl Creamery Corp. produce soft, semi-hard and aged artisan specialty cheeses made with organic cow’s milk sourced from Marin and Sonoma counties in Northern California. In 2015, Tomales Bay Foods and Cowgirl Creamery had combined annual sales of more than $20 million and employed 95 people.

The acquisition strengthens Emmi’s position in the U.S. specialty cheese market and its footprint in North America, where its network of subsidiaries and holdings includes Emmi USA, Emmi Roth USA, Cypress Grove Chevre, The Icelandic Milk and Skyr Corp., the cheese business of J.L. Freeman, and Redwood Hill Farm & Creamery. Emmi generates 44% of its sales abroad, with one-third through exports from Switzerland and two-thirds through products made locally by its subsidiaries.

Urs Riedener, Emmi
Urs Riedener, c.e.o. of Emmi

“Tomales Bay Foods and Cowgirl Creamery are an excellent addition to our portfolio of sustainably produced premium specialty cheeses in the U.S.,” said Urs Riedener, chief executive officer of Emmi. “Together with Cypress Grove Chevre and Redwood Hill, the two companies will form a powerful network for extraordinary dairy products in California.”

The acquisition is expected to close by the end of May. Both companies will continue to operate as separate entities, and founders Sue Conley and Peggy Smith will remain with the company as managing directors, president and vice-president.

“Cowgirl Creamery is an excellent match for Emmi,” said Ms. Conley and Ms. Smith. “All of the companies in its strong network in North America produce premium products and aspire to achieve the same high standards of quality and sustainability. We look forward to making an important contribution to Emmi’s future growth in North America.” 
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