USA – New Zealand dairy co-operative group Fonterra has announced that it is buying a stake in US-based whey protein concentrate and lactose manufacturer Columbia River Technologies, for an undisclosed sum.

USA dairy co-operative and dairy producer Threemile Canyon Farms as equal shareholders in

Columbia River Technologies, which was originally founded in 2013 as a 50-50 joint venture between Tillamook County Creamery Association (TCCA) and Threemile Canyon Farms

The company produces whey protein products at a production facility in Boardman, Oregon, adjacent to the TCCA’s satellite cheese making plant.

The New Zealand dairy giant has joined the two partners as an equal partner in the venture.

It has been the exclusive sales agent for the Columbia River Technologies whey protein products since 2013.

Fonterra Regional Director Ingredients America Joe Coote has said that joining the joint venture as an equal shareholder is a natural progression of its long-term relationship with TCCA and Threemile Canyon Farms.

It enables Fonterra to meet growing demand for ingredients such as whey protein from places outside New Zealand, he added.

“The agreement reflects Fonterra’s move to develop a sustainable US-sourcing network, providing a reliable and efficient chain of supply, and complementing New Zealand-sourced ingredients for our sports and infant nutrition customers.”

TCCA President and CEO Patrick Criteser said the joint venture aligns with TCCA’s strategy to make responsible use of the by-products of its primary cheese-making business and continue to create value for its farmer-owners.

“We’re pleased to further strengthen our existing relationship with Fonterra, an organization that understands the cooperative mind-set and brings significant expertise in the area of whey products.”

“This agreement represents the logical alignment of three successful businesses with compatible core principles and values.

It leverages each company’s expertise and resources, and reinforces an already strong alliance for future strategic growth,” says Marty Myers, General Manager of Threemile Canyon Farms.

Joe Coote also said, “The joint venture agreement also demonstrates Fonterra’s commitment to its partners in the US market”.

TCCA and Threemile have had milk supply agreements with for the last 16 years.

The joint venture was established to maximize efficiencies at TCCA’s cheese-making plant and increase value from the natural whey and lactose by-products of the cheese making process.

Fonterra has shared its world-leading dairy expertise with the joint venture since its start-up, through onsite technical support and training in addition to being an early customer of the whey protein products from the company.