A bankruptcy judge in Santa Rosa, Calif., yesterday approved the sale of certain assets of Humboldt Creamery to Foster Dairy Farms of Modesto, Calif.
The sale includes Humboldt Creamery's processing plant in Fernbridge, Calif., and its frozen distribution center in Stockton, Calif.
"The Humboldt Creamery assets are a great complement to our existing business,” said Jeff Foster, CEO and president of Foster Dairy Farms. "We look forward to building an integrated business that carries forward our longstanding tradition of quality products and excellent service.”
Foster Dairy Farms is family owned and has been operating in California since 1941. Foster is the grandson of the founders. The company produces fluid milk, juices, butter, ice cream, cottage cheese, sour cream and powdered milk under multiple brands, including the Crystal dairy brand.
The sale to Foster Dairy Farms "is a very good step for farmers, employers, customers, suppliers and the community at large,” Len Mayer, acting CEO for Humboldt Creamery, said July 6 after signing an asset purchase agreement with Foster Dairy Farms.
The acquisition of Humboldt Creamery's Fernbridge and Stockton facilities follows an unhappy year for the cooperative. Humboldt Creamery filed for bankruptcy protection on April 21, 2009, shortly after it discovered the company's impaired financial condition following the sudden resignation of CEO Rich Ghilarducci.
Humboldt Creamery had been operating under the supervision of the U.S Bankruptcy Court. The sale of its major assets was a key part of its plan to complete those proceedings.
The 80-year-old co-op counted 50 member-dairies in Northern California. Its main plant, in Fernbridge sits about 30 miles south of Eureka. The plant has annually processed 300 million pounds of milk. Humboldt Creamery had employed about 220 people.
Catherine Merlo is Western editor for Dairy Today. You can reach her at email@example.com.