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Saputo beefs up non-dairy cheese and value-added ingredients with 2 acquisitions

A sign at a Montreal Saputo plant is shown on Jan.13, 2014. Ryan Remiorz/The Canadian Press

Global dairy giant Saputo Inc. is beefing up its non-dairy cheese and value-added ingredients holdings with two new acquisitions.

The Montreal-based dairy processor and cheese manufacturer said Tuesday it had completed the acquisition of Bute Island Foods, a manufacturer, marketer and distributor of vegan cheese.

The Scottish company services both the retail and foodservice markets under its award-winning vegan brand Sheese as well as through private label brands.

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Saputo also entered into an agreement to acquire the Reedsburg, Wis., facility of Wisconsin Specialty Protein, which makes value-added ingredients like goat whey, organic lactose and other dairy powders.

The dairy company said the two acquisitions, which cost a combined $187 million, fit with the company’s new global strategic plan to be discussed during its year-end earnings presentation next week.

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Saputo’s chief executive and board chairman Lino Saputo Jr. said the acquisition of Bute Island Foods reflects the company’s ongoing efforts to grow its presence in the dairy alternative sector.

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“Our commitment remains to expand our footprint in the dairy alternatives space to meet the changing demands of our customers and consumers,” Saputo said in a statement.

“This investment marks an important milestone that will allow us to accelerate our growth in this area globally, putting innovation at the forefront of our priorities.”

The business, located off the West Coast of Scotland, has about 180 employees, while Wisconsin Specialty Protein has about 40 workers.

The Wisconsin Specialty Protein deal is expected to close at the end of May and will “enable Saputo to broaden and increase the value of its ingredients offering,” the company said.

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The deal will also enhance its portfolio in the United States and internationally, Saputo added.

The two acquisitions will strengthen Saputo’s global portfolio of strong assets and brands, said Irene Nattel, an RBC Dominion Securities Inc. analyst.

“Although these combined deals are relatively small, they reinforce (Saputo’s) positioning as one of the top 10 global dairy producers with leading market positions in virtually all of the attractive global milk sheds,” she said in a note to clients.

“The two acquisitions are consistent with (Saputo’s) strategy to broaden its dairy alternatives and value-added ingredients assortment and to accelerate growth through strategic investments, both big and small with a view to double revenues over time through selective, disciplined acquisitions.”

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