Dean Foods Co., Dallas, Texas, and CROPP Cooperative, an independent farmer cooperative based in La Farge, Wis., formed a strategic joint venture to bring organic milk to retailers through Dean Foods' processing plants and refrigerated direct-store-delivery (DSD) distribution system.

The 50/50 joint venture will serve as a strategic growth platform for both companies. Dean Foods will provide processing services and distribution through its extensive refrigerated distribution network. Organic Valley will provide a select portfolio of recognized brands and products, marketing expertise and access to an organic milk supply from what is said to be America's largest cooperative of organic dairy farmers. Both Dean Foods and Organic Valley will leverage their sales expertise to drive distribution; Dean Foods brings extensive experience in channels such as large format, dollar store and C-store while Organic Valley brings expertise in the natural channel, emerging markets and specialty distributors.

"Adding Organic Valley to the current lineup of Dean Foods-branded dairy products enables Dean Foods to offer retail customers the largest and most comprehensive dairy offering across multiple segments with national brands that consumers know and trust. It also allows us to further leverage our manufacturing and distribution network," says Gregg Tanner, chief executive officer of Dean Foods. "We believe the dynamic and growing Organic Valley brand of organic milk is the perfect complement to our own category-leading DairyPure and TruMoo brands, and gives Dean Foods a strong position in the organic dairy segment."

"This partnership reinforces Organic Valley's mission to support more organic farmers and grow our business," says George Siemon, chief executive officer of Organic Valley. "Consumers will enjoy the same Organic Valley quality they've come to know and trust; the same farmers will supply the same organic milk. But, now more Organic Valley organic milk will be on more grocery shelves across the country."

The joint venture expects to begin processing and shipping Organic Valley products in mid-to-late 2017.