Petaluma’s Cowgirl Creamery sold to Swiss dairy giant Emmi

Petaluma’s Cowgirl Creamery and the associated Tomales Bay Foods, has entered into a merger with Emmi, the largest Swiss milk processor.

This is the third acquisition on the North Coast by Emmi, Switzerland’s largest milk processor. In December, it purchased Sebastopol’s Redwood Hill Farm & Creamery, and in 2010, it acquired Arcata goat cheese maker Cypress Grove Chevre.

“Cowgirl Creamery is an excellent match for Emmi,” said Cowgirl founders Sue Conley and Peggy Smith in a statement. “All of the companies in its strong network in North America produce premium products and aspire to achieve the same high standards of quality and sustainability. We look forward to making an important contribution to Emmi’s future growth in North America.”

The sale includes a Petaluma production facility and retail outlets in Point Reyes Station and the Ferry Building in San Francisco, and the related food distribution company Tomales Bay Foods. Emmi will take full control by the end of this month. Financial terms of the transaction weren’t disclosed.

Conley and Smith will maintain the same involvement with the companies. Smith is president and Conley vice president.

“We will of course continue to operate with the same commitment to organic and sustainable agriculture, which has been our passion all along,” they said. “This means that we will stay put, and continue to operate out of Marin and Sonoma counties.”

With new capital from the merger, Cowgirl also plans to build a new production facility in Petaluma, and customers can look forward to the company bringing back its cottage cheese.

Founded in 1997 in Point Reyes, Tomales Bay Foods, Inc. and Cowgirl Creamery Corp. produce soft, semi-hard and aged artisan specialty cheeses made with organic cow’s milk sourced from Marin and Sonoma counties. Conely and Smith both have many years of experience in famous Californian kitchens and learned the craft of cheese-making from scratch. They have continually supported sustainable and organic farming and have also worked to preserve agricultural land and to promote organic farming and traditional artisan cheese making.

In 2015, Tomales Bay Foods and Cowgirl Creamery had combined annual sales of more than $20 million and employed 95 people.

“Tomales Bay Foods and Cowgirl Creamery are an excellent addition to our portfolio of sustainably produced premium specialty cheeses in the U.S.,” said Emmi CEO Urs Riedener. “Together with Cypress Grove Chevre and Redwood Hill, the two companies will form a powerful network for extraordinary dairy products in California.”

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