The company made famous for creating a chocolate milk frenzy has been sold.
New Zealand's largest farmland fund Southern Pastures is to take full ownership of premium milk and butter brand Lewis Road Creamery after agreeing to buy the remaining 50 per cent stake it did not own.
Lewis Road Creamery was started by Peter Cullinane in his kitchen in 2012 and its dairy products are now stocked in major supermarkets across New Zealand as well as in Whole Foods and other stores in the United States and Woolworths in Australia.
Lewis Road Creamery took off in 2014 when the nation swooped up its bottles of chocolate milk as soon as they hit shelves. They became a social media sensation.
Southern Pastures, which owns and operates 20 farms in the Waikato and Canterbury, bought an initial stake in 2017 and has built up the shareholding over the last three years. It will now acquire the remaining share of the business for an undisclosed sum.
Cullinane said it had been an incredible journey that started in his home.
"To now see the brand mature safely in the hands of investors who are farmers of such integrity and quality is a fantastic conclusion."
Cullinane will step down from his roles at the company as part of the deal while general manager Nicola O'Rourke will continue to manage the day-to-day running of the business.
Prem Mann, Southern Pastures executive chairman and Lewis Road board member, said Peter had created an amazing brand.
"We're proud to take on the responsibility of building on it to produce the best premium dairy products New Zealand has to offer."
Southern Pastures' farms produce milk under a stringent independently certified 10 Star Certified Values Program which stipulates grass-fed, free-range, climate-change mitigation, human welfare, animal welfare, GMO-free, palm products free, growth hormones free, antibiotic stewardship, and environmental sustainability requirements.
Premium milk produced under the Southern Pastures 10 Star programme is currently used in Lewis Road Creamery's grass-fed butter.
Maan said Southern Pastures earlier this year also took full ownership of NZ Grass Fed Milk Products LP - which was previously a joint venture with Westland Milk Products.
"We're convinced that farming can be a powerful tool for environmental good in addition to providing economic returns," Maan said.
"We have a long-term vision to produce carbon-neutral dairy in New Zealand and we see Lewis Road Creamery as part of that grass-to-glass journey."
The board of Southern Pastures, chaired by Maan and including former All Blacks captain Graham Mourie, Phillip Wight, and Taari Nicholas will become the board of Lewis Road.
It will also appoint an advisory board to be chaired by current Lewis Road board director Alison Barrass and will include California based NZ Grass Fed Milk products director, Deborah Rolf.