DairiConcepts, L.P., a Springfield, Mo., joint venture betweenFonterraandDairy Farmers of America, said it  acquired the U.S. hard Italian cheese business ofSwiss Valley Farms(SVF) for an undisclosed amount.

Officials said the business -- previously owned by SVF's wholly owned affiliateRochester Cheese--  produces private label fresh grated hard Italian cheeses and private label dry hard grated Italian cheeses for retail, foodservice and industrial customers.

The acquisition includes Rochester's plant at Dalbo, Minn. Ownership of a second plant at Spring Valley, Minn., will remain with Rochester and hard Italian cheese production there will be moved to Dalbo.

Fonterra Managing Director, Global Ingredients and Foodservices Andrei Mikhalevsky said the acquisition would cement DairiConcepts' position as the number two player in the U.S. hard Italian cheese market.

"It will also bring a more diverse product and customer mix, with scale in fresh products. It will provide a number of strategic benefits and synergies for DairiConcepts, and therefore for Fonterra and its shareholders," he said. "And it gives us a clear position in one of the fastest-growing and most attractive cheese categories in the U.S. market."

"The acquisition of Rochester Cheese's sales and marketing platform fits nicely with our current hard Italian cheese strategy, providing resources we will need to support the future of this growing category of our business," added Neil Stockman, DairiConcepts vice president of Hard Italian Cheese.

DairiConcepts says it specializes in cost-effective, high quality cheese and dairy powders, cheese concentrates, functional dairy replacement systems and hard Italian cheeses.