Bustling dairy sector keeps firms busy

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Strong overseas interest in Australia’s dairy sector has continued to drive further deals, with one of the world’s largest dairy companies purchasing Western Australia’s second largest dairy producer.
Parmalat Australia, the local subsidiary of the Italian company Parmalat, has acquired Harvey Food and Beverage Ltd (Harvey Fresh) for approximately $117 million.
Minter Ellison, led by partner Franki Ganter and senior associate Steven Grant, advised Parmalat Australia.
The Minter Ellison team also included partners Justin Oliver and John Prevost.
Harvey Fresh was advised by boutique Western Australian firm Williams+Hughes.
In addition to producing fresh and UHT milk, Harvey Fresh also produces fruit juice and exports 20% to 30% of its processed dairy products to Asia where demand for Australian dairy products is high. 
The company has two production facilities at Harvey and Griffith and employs 250 staff. 
Parmalat already has a strong foothold in the Australian dairy market, processing milk, yoghurt and fresh dairy products and owning brands such as Pauls, Vaalia, Ice Break and Oak.
This latest deal comes after the fiercely contested sale of Warrnambool Cheese and Butter in January foreshadowed further activity in the dairy and agribusiness sectors.   
That month Herbert Smith Freehills also advised a consortium of international private investors on its acquisition of United Dairy Power Group, Australia’s largest privately-owned dairy processor and supplier.
Australia is regarded as a provider of clean, fresh and high-quality dairy which is not always possible in other countries. 
Another reason for the strong international interest in Australian dairy and agribusiness is the expanding tastes and dietary requirements of Asia’s increasingly affluent consumers.
Further deals can be expected if Pacific Equity Partners goes ahead with the rumoured sale of Peter’s Ice Cream and if Canadian dairy giant Saputo continues to make purchases in the Australian market.

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