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LONDONDERRY, N.H. -- The world's leading organic yogurt manufacturer, Stonyfield Farm, Inc., is joining forces with Paris-based Groupe Danone to form a European venture called Stonyfield Europe. The new organic dairy firm will be co-owned with 20 percent equity interest by Stonyfield Farm, Inc. and 80 percent equity interest by Groupe Danone.
The combined group's first initiative was to acquire more than one-third of Irish organic dairy leader Glenisk.
Stonyfield Europe, headed by Stonyfield Farm president Gary Hirshberg, will operate as an independent entity within Groupe Danone's Fresh Dairy Products business line.
"I am particularly proud that our first initiative in Europe has been an investment in Glenisk, a wonderful family-owned and -operated company recognized as a pacesetter for organic dairy not just in Ireland, but in Europe as well," said Hirshberg, who serves as chairman and managing director of Stonyfield Europe, in a statement. "Our aim is to help Glenisk and the Cleary family to increase their production capacity and their marketing and consumer education activities. It is also Stonyfield Europe's first step in our own agenda of leveraging our 23-year U.S. experience on behalf of family farmers and consumers to help catalyze the development and expansion of similar grass-roots organic enterprises."
Franck Riboud, chairman and c.e.o. of Groupe Danone, noted: "The European market for organic dairy products is growing, but it remains a fairly discreet presence. With Stonyfield Europe, we hope to capitalize on the success and unique expertise of Stonyfield Farm to speed up its development."
Stonyfield Europe has acquired a 37 percent interest in Glenisk, No. 1 in Ireland for organic dairy products. Founded in 1987 as an offshoot of the successful Tullamore Dairies, Glenisk reported sales growth of over 10 percent in 2005. The Cleary family, which will hold the remaining 63 percent of stock, will continue to manage the business.