Fairmount Food buys ConAgra Foods specialty cheese unit

by Eric Schroeder
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CHICAGO — Fairmount Food Group, L.L.C., a unit of private equity firm GTCR Golder Rauner, L.L.C., has acquired Swissrose International, the specialty cheese unit of Omaha-based ConAgra Foods, Inc. Fairmount was created in 2003 as part of a partnership between GTCR and Bing Graffunder, a 35-year food and beverage industry veteran and former chief operating officer of Morningstar Foods, Inc.

Swissrose was founded in 1938, and today markets specialty and imported cheeses to retail and food service customers nationally. As a result of the transaction, Fairmount will be the largest U.S. importer and marketer of specialty and deli-style cheeses, with the combined business generating more than $500 million in annual revenues.

The transaction marks the fifth such acquisition for GTCR and Dallas-based Fairmount Food Group, whose recent additions have included DCI Cheese Co., Green Bay Cheese, Carter Meister and G&G Foods.

"The addition of Swissrose is a major step toward expanding our branded offerings and delivering our customers the very best products and customer service," said Mr. Graffunder, chief executive officer of Fairmount Food Group. "With this acquisition we are more than doubling the size of our specialty cheese portfolio and expanding our U.S. presence from coast to coast."

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