EUROPE – The Swiss dairy company, Emmi has acquired 66% stake in Austrian goat’s and sheep’s milk processor Leeb Biomilch GmbH for an undisclosed sum.

Emmi says the move will enable expand its international dairy business supported by rising demand for goat, sheep milk and related products.

As part of the agreement, the company co-founders Hubert Leeb and Jörg Hackenbuchner will retain the remaining 34 %.

Founded in 2001, Leeb Biomilch has established network in Europe, supplying organic goat’s and sheep’s milk products in fresh and UHT milk, milk drinks and yogurt.

It has some 50 employees and generates annual sales of approximately US$16.85 million (EUR 15 million) and obtains its milk from around 100 Austrian organic farmers.

“Leeb Biomilch GmbH is not only a good fit for Emmi based on its goat’s milk products, but also on its clear commitment to quality, innovation and sustainability,” said Urs Riedener, CEO of the Emmi Group.

Europe and Austria forms some of the major markets for Leeb Biomilch with a few customers in Germany and the Netherlands, where it also collaborates with the Emmi subsidiaries AVH Dairy and Bettinehoeve.

Emmi’s goat milk portfolio includes three goat’s milk processors in the US (Cypress Grove, Redwood Hill, Jackson-Mitchell/”Meyenberg”), three in Europe (Bettinehoeve (NL), Goat Milk Powder (NL), Lácteos Caprinos (ES)).

The company also operates AVH Dairy, a Netherlands based provider of goat and sheep dairy ingredients including sheep milk, goat milk, sheep milk powder, goat milk.

Emmi entered the goat’s milk products business in 2010 through its acquisition of Californian company Cypress Grove and Swiss brand Le Petit Chevrier.

Expansion into the vegan market

The acquisition which also expands Emmi’s range of organic vegan products positions the company as one of the leading suppliers of organic goat and sheep milk products in Europe.

Leeb Biomilch makes vegan products under the MyLove-MyLife brand, made exclusively from organic raw ingredients such as almonds, coconut and oats.

“Together, we have managed to develop organic sheep’s and goat’s milk products from very little to an attractive niche range that enjoys strong demand throughout Europe”, said Jörg Hackenbuchner.

Commenting on the acquisition, Hubert Leeb said: “By selling the majority stake to Emmi, we aim to boost its growth even further.”

The transaction is expected to close in summer 2019, subject to regulatory approval.