Westland Milk Products acquires Canary Foods

New Zealand’s dairy manufacturer Canary Foods has been purchased by Westland Milk Products. Westland CEO Richard Wyeth says the purchase of Canary Foods would merge New Zealand’s West Coast dairy heritage with an innovative business that has already spread its wings to international markets.

Under the deal, Canary Foods will become a subsidiary of Westland Milk Products, retaining its own brands and third-party manufacturing agreements. Murray & Co acted as transaction advisors.

“Canary is a fantastic fit for our business because it is so obviously based on a strong understanding of what our customers want and need,’’ Wyeth says. “Their commitment to innovation, sustainability and quality in pursuit of consumer demands are values we very much admire and uphold.

“After our NZ$40 million investment in doubling our consumer butter manufacturing capacity at Hokitika, this extends our long-term commitment to add value to Westland’s butter portfolio by playing a greater role in the expanding global consumer butter and spread market.

“Westland continues to go from strength to strength under our parent company Yili. Yili’s investment has helped us turn our performance across the entire company around and we’re now in a very strong position to capitalise on that.’’

Canary has developed a compostable, individually sized butter squeeze pack in response to consumer demands for ethically responsible packaging and global calls for an end to single-use plastics.

“This is a great example of a New Zealand company leading the world in research and development and we look forward to getting behind this culture of innovation even further,’’ Wyeth says.

Canary Foods executive director and shareholder James Gray said the acquisition by Westland would give the Waikato-based dairy manufacturer more opportunities for expansion and access to global markets.

“Canary grew off the back of taking outstanding New Zealand dairy products to the world by catering for the airline and hospitality industries,’’ Gray says. “We used the Covid pandemic as an opportunity to reassess our strategy and now, after record sales last year and with international travel and the hospitality sector set to take off, we are already in a strong position as these markets continue to bounce back.’’

Canary chairman and shareholder Jeremy Curragh says the relationship with Westland parent company Yili would give the company even greater access to international markets. “We’re extremely proud of the extensive international distribution networks we have managed to establish over the past 21 years. We have long and loyal customers and a highly skilled and dedicated workforce who we know will continue to thrive under Westland’s ownership. Their hard work and dedication has been key to much of Canary’s success.’’

Canary Foods exports 75% of the dairy products it manufactures for a range of applications. Established in 2001, Canary Foods is a manufacturer producing reworked premium butter and cheese-based products such as butter sheets and medallions. Canary’s 100% New Zealand dairy products are supplied to businesses in the retail and food service sectors, including supermarkets, airlines, restaurants and bakery outlets.

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