LITHUANIA – Fonterra Co-operative Group has acquired a 10% shareholding AB Rokiskio Suris, deepening a long-standing commercial agreement with Lithuania’s biggest dairy producer,

In the deal, Fonterra has invested US$8.2 million in Rokiskio to secure a supply line of high-value whey ingredients while opening up product options across Europe and the Middle East.

According to Fonterra, the agreement also creates the opportunity to source additional dairy products from the Baltic milk pool to serve the increasing demand from nearby developing markets.

Fonterra Chairman John Wilson said the investment was closely aligned to Fonterra’s strategy to grow its global sources of milk in strategic locations such as Europe, enabling the co-operative to satisfy customer demand in market closer to those sources.

“Our New Zealand farmers will always remain our primary source of milk, but increasingly we are supporting our growth and their returns through strategic partnerships in Europe, Latin America, Australia and China.

These partnerships enable us to produce products in demand closer to the market while providing more opportunity for milk and milk products we make elsewhere,” he said.

Fonterra CEO Theo Spierings also said the development built on Fonterra’s current long-term supply relationship with Rokiskio would benefit both companies.

“Our ability to access high-value whey protein ingredients is increasingly important as demand grows, especially in Eastern and Western European, Middle Eastern and North African markets.”

“Rokiskio is also a highly-respected cheese producer and this also opens up further opportunities for us to satisfy customer demand in these markets.

This is another step in our strategy to develop a sustainable European-sourcing network, providing a reliable and efficient chain of supply that will complement our New Zealand-sourced ingredients.”

Rokiskio Suris Chairman, Dalius Trumpa said Rokiskio’s focus on product quality and safety, as well as its environmental performance, were important strengths the company brought to the relationship with Fonterra.

Contract manufacturing for Fonterra had played a role in the company’s capacity expansions and upgrades in 2014 and 2016 and he is optimistic about future growth opportunities.

“We have worked closely as commercial partners for five years and over this time we have built a strong relationship.

Fonterra’s investment in Rokiskio Suris lifts our company to a new global level, opening up export opportunities which will generate more value from our local milk pool,” says Trumpa.

Rokiskio exports to Eastern and Western markets as well as producing a wide range of fresh dairy products for the Baltic region.