Foster Farms Dairy of Modesto expands ice cream production

Foster Farms Dairy announced today that it is expanding again, through the purchase of ice cream plants in Sacramento and Salem, Ore.

The Modesto-based company is getting the plants through its acquisition of Matterhorn Group Inc., which is based in Boise, Idaho, and filed for bankruptcy protection. The price was not disclosed.

The deal will add 130 year-round employees and about 40 seasonal workers to Foster Farms’ workforce of 1,100, said Jeff Foster, chief executive officer and president, in a written statement.

Matterhorn makes ice cream mainly under private labels for numerous retailers. It is the top producer of “novelty” items such as ice cream sandwiches in the West, according to the company’s Web site.

“We will blend these frozen dessert offerings into our current distribution channels,” Foster said. “Plus, Matterhorn adds new customers to Foster’s existing portfolio, enabling greater geographic breadth in the western region along with increased penetration into current markets.”

The Salem plant has its roots in a dairy farm that was founded in 1913 and sold Salem Sanitary Milk. The Sacramento operation began in 1933 as the maker of Vitafreeze novelties.

It is the third major addition in the past three years for Foster Farms, which was founded in 1941, two years after the Foster family started the separate poultry company that bears the same name.

The first was the 2007 purchase of Crystal Cream and Butter Co. of Sacramento, which led to the Crystal brand being placed on Foster Farms products.

The second was last year’s purchase of Humboldt Creamery, a Eureka-area producer of organic and conventional dairy products.

Foster Farms Dairy also has plants in Modesto and Fresno, along with several dairy farms.

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