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Agropur to take control of Iogo, Olympic yogurt maker

Agrifoods co-op to shed its 50 per cent stake in Ultima j.v.

Olympic yogurt

Ultima Foods, the Canadian maker of Iogo and Olympic yogurt products, is set to become the sole property of Quebec dairy producers’ co-op Agropur.

Agropur and Agrifoods International Co-operative, which combined their yogurt manufacturing and marketing operations in 1993 to form Ultima as a 50-50 joint venture, announced a deal Thursday which will see Agropur become Ultima’s sole owner.

Ultima, which bought B.C. yogurt processor Olympic Dairy in 2004 and launched its own Canadian brand, Iogo, in 2014, today has about 660 staff in plants at Granby, Que. and Delta, B.C., with annual sales of over $300 million.

Ultima currently also makes Yoplait yogurt products for the Canadian market in a co-packing deal with that brand’s majority owner General Mills.

The two companies said the deal is subject to “the usual authorizations, including those of the Competition Bureau,” which an Agrifoods spokesperson said they hope to receive within the next couple of months. The deal’s financial terms won’t be released, the spokesperson said.

“This transaction continues along the course we have charted and will support our long-term development in the yogurt category,” Agropur president Rene Moreau said in a release Thursday. “We are always very proud when we are able to keep processing assets in the hands of Canadian dairy farmers.”

Agrifoods president Tim Hofstra described the deal as “a very positive transaction as it will create the optimal condition for Ultima Foods’ development.”

Agropur CEO Robert Coallier described the deal as “a unique opportunity to develop and optimize our business model.”

He also described the partnership with Agrifoods to date as “very fruitful,” having led to the rebranding of Olympic and the creation of the Iogo brand, “a launch that is considered a milestone in the history of Canada’s food industry.”

For its part, Agropur said it expects the deal “will augment Agropur’s range of products in the fresh dairy market”, adding that Ultima “will continue to be the only national Canadian-owned yogurt-maker.”

Burnaby, B.C.-based Agrifoods, formed as a dairy farmers’ co-operative in Western Canada, was previously best known for the Dairyworld milk business, which it sold to Saputo in 2001.

Agrifoods’ remaining brands include organic dairy product line Organic Meadow, foodservice and private-label dairy line Meadowfresh, organic juice, soup and dairy line Happy Planet and, under the Earth’s Own label, SoFresh almond and cashew beverages, So Nice soy and almond beverages and So Good soy beverages.

“Moving forward from today’s transaction, Agrifoods is excited to enhance our focus on innovating and nurturing our family of brands and continuing our leadership role in the health and wellness industry in Canada,” Hofstra said. — Network

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