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Saputo to buy California cheesemaker

Canada’s biggest dairy processor plans to continue its expansion in U.S. processing capacity by buying a California cheese firm.

Montreal-based Saputo said Tuesday it will buy the activities of F+A Dairy of California, a mozzarella, provolone and whey producer at Newman, about 130 km east of San Jose.

Saputo, which bills itself as the world’s 11th-biggest dairy processor and one of the top three cheese producers in the U.S., said F+A produced about 60 million pounds of cheese in calendar 2008 for sales of about US$140 million.

Financial terms weren’t disclosed for the deal, which Saputo said it expects to close by about July 20.

Saputo’s other recent expansions in the U.S. have included Wisconsin’s Alto Dairy Co-operative, bought in 2008 for US$160 million, and a California industrial cheese operation Saputo bought from Land O’Lakes in early 2007. Saputo also bought Weston Foods’ dairy division, Neilson Dairy, last fall for C$465 million.

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