Irish Dairy Co-op Acquires Leading US Cheese Business Whitehall Specialties Inc.

Versie Dortch

HILBERT, Wis.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Irish dairy cooperative, Ornua, announced today it has completed the acquisition of U.S. cheese ingredients business, Whitehall Specialties Inc. (WSI) for an undisclosed sum from Mason Wells, a private equity firm based in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The acquisition complements Ornua’s U.S. Ingredients division, Ornua Ingredients North America (OINA), and is central to Ornua’s long-term growth strategy in the U.S. cheese ingredients market.

OINA is a leading provider of customized functional cheese solutions for U.S. food manufacturing and foodservice customers.

This acquisition significantly increases OINA’s current position in the U.S. cheese ingredients market, expanding its production footprint to six well-invested facilities across Wisconsin, Minnesota and Pennsylvania. The transaction is central to Ornua’s long-term sustainable growth strategy, unlocking significant advanced capacity and flexibility to support its existing and new customers’ ambitious growth plans.

“We are delighted to expand our U.S. ingredients footprint with the acquisition of Whitehall Specialties and warmly welcome the WSI team and their customers and suppliers to the Ornua family,” said Rick Pedersen, President, OINA. “Our business has been on a strong trajectory of growth over the last ten years, and in partnering with WSI we are creating a powerful partnership that builds a strong foundation for long-term, sustainable growth. Our business is focused on building long-term partnerships with our customers through innovation, best-in-class technical expertise and close collaboration. The capacity and flexibility enabled by this partnership will allow us to further our ability to meet the needs of our customers and to deliver enhanced solutions to help them grow their businesses.”

Outside of the cheese ingredients sector, Ornua is a leading supplier in the U.S. consumer market with its flagship brand, Kerrygold. Kerrygold, Ireland’s only €1 billion food brand, is the number two butter brand in the U.S. and sells 10 million packs each week globally.

About Ornua Ingredients North America OINA custom formulate and manufacture a complete line of pasteurized processed cheese products. With more than 80 years of experience in cheese formulation, OINA delivers functional and nutritional cheese-based ingredient solutions for leading food manufacturing and foodservice customers.

OINA has two production facilities with some of the most advanced dairy processing equipment in the sector including a state-of-the-art innovation center providing functional cheese solutions across the U.S., Canada, Central and South America. For more information, visit:

About Whitehall Specialties Inc

WSI provides innovative functional analogue, plant-based, and blended cheese products and cheese solutions to its longstanding food manufacturing, retail, and foodservice customers. Headquartered in Wisconsin, it employs 450 people across four well-invested production and warehouse facilities.

About Ornua

Ornua is a dairy co-operative which sells dairy products on behalf of its Members, Ireland’s dairy processors and, in turn, Irish dairy farmers. It is Ireland’s largest purchaser of Irish dairy products, exporting to 110 countries worldwide. Headquartered in Dublin, it has annualized sales of over €2.3 billion and a global team of 2,400 employees. Ornua operates from 10 business units worldwide, including 12 production facilities, and has sales and marketing teams working in-market across all four corners of the globe.

The Group is structured across two divisions: Ornua Foods and Ornua Ingredients. Ornua Ingredients is responsible for the procurement of Irish and non-Irish dairy products and for the sale of dairy ingredients to food manufacturing and foodservice customers across the world. Ornua Ingredients is also responsible for managing volatility through de-risking and trading strategies. The business is supported by production facilities in Saudi Arabia, Spain, the UK, the U.S. and by in-market teams in Africa and the Middle East.

Ornua Foods is responsible for the marketing and sales of Ornua’s consumer brands including Kerrygold, Dubliner, Pilgrims Choice, Kerrygold Avantage, Forto, and BEO. Markets are served by production facilities and in-market sales and marketing teams in Africa, Asia, Germany, Ireland, the UK, the rest of Europe, the Middle East, and the US.

About Mason Wells

Mason Wells is a leading Midwest-based private equity firm with approximately $1.5 billion in assets under management across its current private equity funds. Since Mason Wells was formed in 1998, its buyout funds have invested in four specific industry sectors: Outsourced Business Services, Consumer Packaged Goods, Engineered Products & Services, and Packaging Materials & Converting. For more information related to Mason Wells, please visit the firm’s website at

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