Emmi acquires majority stake in one of Europe’s leading suppliers of organic goat’s and sheep’s milk products
Goat’s milk products are among the most attractive niches in the international dairy industry. Emmi has gradually been expanding its international goat’s milk network since 2010. By taking a 66 % stake in Austrian goat’s and sheep’s milk processor Leeb Biomilch GmbH, Emmi is building on its position in this market. The acquisition also expands Emmi’s range of organic vegan products.
Emmi entered the goat’s milk products business in 2010 through its acquisition of Californian company Cypress Grove and Swiss brand Le Petit Chevrier. Positive experience in this segment has prompted Emmi to gradually strengthen its position in this attractive niche. Emmi’s goat’s milk network now includes two goat’s milk processors in the US (Cypress Grove, Redwood Hill), three in Europe (Bettinehoeve (NL), Goat Milk Powder (NL), Lácteos Caprinos (ES)) and AVH Dairy, a global trading company also based in the Netherlands. These are all small to medium-sized companies with attractive positions in selected segments.
The 66 % stake in Leeb Biomilch GmbH, based in Wartberg, Austria, now means it has an even denser network. According to Urs Riedener, CEO of the Emmi Group: “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.”
A leading supplier in Europe
Leeb Biomilch GmbH was founded in 2001 by Austrian food engineer Hubert Leeb. Jörg Hackenbuchner joined the company in 2007 to drive growth through his expertise in the branded goods business – with great success: The company has established a leading position in Europe for 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 EUR 15 million.
The business model of Leeb Biomilch GmbH focuses on dairy and fresh products (especially yogurt) made from organic goat’s and organic sheep’s milk. The company obtains its milk from around 100 Austrian organic farmers.
Leeb Biomilch GmbH supplies customers throughout Europe from Austria. It generates just under half of its sales in Austria. Other key markets include Germany and the Netherlands, where it also collaborates with the Emmi subsidiaries AVH Dairy and Bettinehoeve, among others.
Additional line of business in the vegan market
Hubert Leeb and Jörg Hackenbuchner decided to build up a second line of business in vegan milk alternatives in 2016. In doing so, they remained true to their conviction that all food should be of sustainable origin. The vegan products under the MyLove-MyLife brand are also made exclusively from organic raw ingredients – almonds, coconut and oats. Oats from Austria and almonds from Sicily meet the company’s own sustainability requirements.
The vegan milk alternatives are distributed by Hale GmbH. The most important markets for these products are retailers in Germany and Austria.
Proven crew stays at the helm
In a first step, Emmi will acquire 66 % of the shares from the two owners, Hubert Leeb and Jörg Hackenbuchner, who will retain the remaining 34 %. “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”, says Jörg Hackenbuchner. Hubert Leeb adds: “By selling the majority stake to Emmi, we aim to boost its growth even further.” Hubert Leeb and Jörg Hackenbuchner will remain with the company in their current roles as managing directors. No changes to staff are planned in other areas either.
The transaction is expected to close in summer 2019, subject to approval by the Austrian Federal Competition Authority. The parties have agreed not to disclose the purchase price.
Emmi is a major Swiss milk processor. The company dates back to 1907, when it was founded by 62 dairy farming cooperatives around Lucerne. Over the past 20 years, Emmi has grown into an international, listed group. It has for many years pursued a successful strategy based on three pillars: strengthening its Swiss domestic market, growth abroad and cost management. Throughout its corporate history, Emmi’s keen awareness of its responsibility to society, animal welfare and the environment has been fundamental to its mission.
In Switzerland, Emmi manufactures a comprehensive range of dairy products for its own brands and private label products for customers, including leading exports such as Emmi Caffè Latte and Kaltbach. In other countries, its products – mainly speciality products – are manufactured locally. Alongside cow’s milk, it also processes goat’s and sheep’s milk.
In Switzerland, the Emmi Group has 25 production sites. Abroad, Emmi and its subsidiaries have a presence in 14 countries, seven of which have production facilities. Emmi exports products from Switzerland to around 60 countries. Its business activities focus on the Swiss domestic market as well as western Europe and the American continent. Half of its CHF 3.5 billion in sales – over 10 % of which stems from organic products – is generated in Switzerland, the other half abroad. It has over 6,000 employees who are also spread equally between Switzerland and other countries.
About Leeb and Hale
Leeb Biomilch GmbH, a family business founded 25 years ago, is known as an innovative organic dairy in the Kremstal valley, Upper Austria. The dairy’s central aim is to combine rural production in harmony with nature with modern technology and the highest quality. One clear objective is to offer its customers the best products and cater to new customer requirements.
Hale GmbH is the new company which develops and distributes organic vegan products based on almonds, coconut and oats under the MyLove-MyLife brand.