Gay Lea Foods Co-operative Ltd., Canada, entered into an agreement to acquire the shares of Alberta Cheese Co. Ltd., also based in Canada, effective Oct. 13.

The purchase expands upon Gay Lea Foods’ selection of Ontario, Canada-produced cheeses under the Salerno, Ivanhoe and Black River brands, and supports the cooperative’s plan to grow its presence in the Canadian dairy industry.

“Gay Lea Foods is pleased to welcome Alberta Cheese to our cooperative and honored to continue the heritage built by the Talarico family over the past 40 years. We look forward to many new relationships and opportunities, as Gay Lea Foods expands into Western Canada and continues to build momentum in the Canadian dairy industry,” says Steve Dolson, chair, Gay Lea Foods.

Alberta Cheese specializes in the manufacturing of traditional Italian cheeses under the Franco’s and Sorrento brands, as well as the importation and distribution of cheese and other food products from around the world.

The integration of Alberta Cheese into Gay Lea Foods will add the Franco’s and Sorrento brands to Gay Lea Foods’ selection of high-quality and specialty cheeses produced in Ontario. The move will also further increase the production capacity of the cooperative, and expand relationships for Gay Lea Foods with Alberta foodservice providers and retailers.

Gay Lea Foods intends to maintain full operations at the Alberta Cheese plant and preserve all relationships with existing Alberta Cheese customers, suppliers and employees.

“Today’s announcement represents an exciting next chapter for Alberta Cheese, as my family’s legacy becomes part of another family - one that shares our principles and our commitment to quality and service. My family leveraged our heritage, passion and expertise to launch Alberta Cheese, and we are immensely proud to see it become part of a successful and growing cooperative like Gay Lea Foods,” adds Frank Talarico, founder, Alberta Cheese Co.

“Much like Gay Lea Foods, Alberta Cheese is known for providing exceptional products with exceptional service. We are excited to welcome this highly regarded business to our cooperative, as we continue to cultivate our cheese business and work to grow a strong, sustainable Canadian dairy industry that delivers innovative, market-driven dairy products,” says Michael Barrett, president and CEO, Gay Lea Foods.