The acquisition also expands Emmi’s range of organic vegan products.
Emmi entered the goat 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 the niche. Emmi’s goat milk network now includes two goat milk processors in the US (Cypress Grove, Redwood Hill), three in Europe (Bettinehoeve, the Netherlands, Goat Milk Powder, the Netherlands, and Lácteos Caprinos, Spain) and AVH Dairy, a global trading company also based in the Netherlands.
Urs Riedener, CEO of the Emmi Group, said, “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.”
Leading supplier in Europe
Leeb Biomilch, based in Wartberg, Austria, was founded in 2001 by Austrian food engineer Hubert Leeb. Jörg Hackenbuchner joined the company in 2007 to drive growth. The company has established a leading position in Europe for organic goat and sheep milk products in fresh and UHT milk, milk drinks and yogurt. It has 50 employees and generates annual sales of approximately €15m ($16.8m).
The business model of Leeb Biomilch focuses on dairy and fresh products (especially yogurt) made from organic goat and organic sheep milk sourced from around 100 Austrian organic farmers.
Leeb Biomilch generates just under half of its sales in Austria. Other key markets include Germany and the Netherlands, where it collaborates with Emmi subsidiaries AVH Dairy and Bettinehoeve, among others.
Leeb and Hackenbuchner decided to build up a second line of business in vegan milk alternatives in 2016. The vegan products under the MyLove-MyLife brand are made 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.
No staff changes
Leeb and Hackenbuchner will remain in their roles as managing directors, and retain 34% of the company. No changes to staff are planned in other areas.
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 approval by the Austrian Federal Competition Authority. The parties have agreed not to disclose the purchase price.