HILBERT, WIS. — Irish dairy cooperative Ornua said it has completed the acquisition of Whitehall Specialties Inc. (WSI) from Milwaukee-based private equity firm Mason Wells. Financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed.
Based in Whitehall, Wis., WSI provides functional analog, plant-based and blended cheese products and cheese solutions to food manufacturing, retail and foodservice customers. The company employs 450 at four production and warehouse facilities.
Ornua said the acquisition complements its US ingredients division, Ornua Ingredients North America (OINA), and is central to its long-term growth strategy in the US cheese ingredients market. OINA provides customized functional cheese solutions for US food manufacturing and foodservice customers.
Following the acquisition OINA now has six facilities across Wisconsin, Minnesota and Pennsylvania.
“We are delighted to expand our US ingredients footprint with the acquisition of Whitehall Specialties and warmly welcome the WSI team and their customers and suppliers to the Ornua family,” said Rick Pedersen, president of OINA. “Our business has been on a strong trajectory of growth over the last 10 years, and in partnering with WSI we are creating a powerful partnership that builds a strong foundation for long-term, sustainable growth. Our business is focused on building long-term partnerships with our customers through innovation, best-in-class technical expertise and close collaboration. The capacity and flexibility enabled by this partnership will allow us to further our ability to meet the needs of our customers and to deliver enhanced solutions to help them grow their businesses.”
In addition to cheese ingredients, Ornua is a key supplier in the US consumer market with its flagship brand, Kerrygold. Kerrygold, Ireland’s only €1 billion food brand, is the No. 2 butter brand in the United States and sells 10 million packs each week globally, according to Ornua.
Earlier this year Ornua completed construction on a $10 million expansion at its Hilbert cheese ingredients operation. As part of the expansion Ornua added 22,000 square feet of warehousing and cooling infrastructure, increasing production capacity at the cheese making plant by 30%.