- Associated Press - Sunday, January 15, 2017

LA FARGE, Wis. (AP) - The largest La Farge-based co-op of organic farmers in the country is planning to create a joint venture with one of the nation’s largest dairy processors in order to put its dairy products in as many as 140,000 more stores nationwide.

Organic Valley, founded by CEO George Siemon among other farmers in 1988, is coming off its second billion-dollar year. The company is joining with Dallas-based Dean Foods in a 50-50 pact beginning this year under the Organic Valley brand label, the La Crosse Tribune (http://bit.ly/2ivjcne) reported.

Dean Foods, founded in 1925 in northwest Illinois, is a dairy processor and direct-to-store distributor of fluid milk. According to its website, the company also distributes ice cream, cultured products, juices, teas, bottled water among other products.

The joint venture is projected to expand Organic Valley products nationwide from just grocery stores to also drugstores, convenience stores and discount outlets. Organic Valley’s producer pool accounts for about 12 percent of the organic farmers in the nation.

“The only change you’ll notice is Organic Valley products will be easier to find,” Siemon said. “Expect to enjoy the same quality you’ve come to know and trust: The same farmers will supply the same organic milk, and Dean Foods will help get it into new places like drug, convenience and dollar stores.”

Former Dean vice president Greg Schwarz will be coming aboard as general manager of the venture.

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Information from: La Crosse Tribune, http://www.lacrossetribune.com

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