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Fonterra's DairiConcepts joint venture with Dairy Farmers of America, has bought the United States hard Italian cheese business of Swiss Valley Farms.

The business, previously owned by Swiss Valley's wholly-owned affiliate Rochester Cheese, produced private label fresh grated hard Italian cheeses and private label dry hard grated Italian cheeses for retail, foodservice and industrial customers, Fonterra said.

Fonterra managing director, global ingredients and foodservices Andrei Mikhalevsky said the acquisition would cement DairiConcepts' position as the No 2 player in the US hard Italian cheese market.

"It will also bring a more diverse product and customer mix, with scale in fresh products... And it gives us a clear position in one of the fastest-growing and most attractive cheese categories in the US market," Mikhalevsky said.

The acquisition of Rochester Cheese's sales and marketing platform provided resources needed to support the future of the growing hard Italian cheese category of the DairiConcepts business, vice-president of hard Italian cheese Neil Stockman said.

The deal included Rochester's plant at Dalbo, Minnesota, while Rochester would retain a second plant at Spring Valley, Minnesota, from which Italian cheese production would be moved to Dalbo.

- NZPA