Brownes has struck a deal with Ravenhill Dairy to keep the WA brand alive and in Australian hands as the milk supply war between major processors hots up.
The deal with one of the State's biggest milk producers comes with Brownes locked in a battle for supplies with Harvey Fresh and Lion, which has already been forced to bring in milk from interstate this year.
Brownes, owned by Australian private equity firm Archer Capital, plans to double its turnover to $400 million over the next five years.
"In order to do that we are going to need more milk," Brownes managing director Ben Purcell said yesterday. "We are investing heavily in the business and we will continue to look for acquisitions in the industry."
Ravenhill Dairy, based on a family-owned farm at Narrikup, was on the verge of being sold to a Chinese firm until late last year when the deal fell through.
Brownes revealed yesterday that it had stepped in to buy the Ravenhill brand, processing assets and milk supply, estimated at 8 million litres a year, for an undisclosed sum.
The Ravenhill family retain ownership of their 950ha farm and 1100-head dairy herd.
The exclusive supply deal which takes effect in August dramatically increases Brownes' majority share in WA milk collection at the expense of Lion, which had been supplied by Ravenhill.
It is believed Harvey Fresh, which won the Coles contract ahead of Brownes about 18 months ago, has been able to re-sign about 95 per cent of its suppliers in the face of increased competition.
Ravenhill manager Ken Ravenhill said the family was happy to put the frustrations of the lapsed Chinese deal behind it and move forward.
"It was disappointing that the Chinese defaulted on the sale but we have moved on and remain passionate about dairy farming," Mr Ravenhill said.
"There was an unconditional contract to buy the farm but after the Chinese had asked for several extensions on settlement we brought the matter to a head and it didn't go through."
Mr Ravenhill said the Brownes deal would allow the family to expand the dairy business, with the milking herd tipped to grow by up to 400 head over the next few years.
It would also resurrect the Ravenhill brand name on fresh milk, gourmet ice-cream and flavoured milk after the family wound up the brand in January after the Chinese deal collapsed.
"We are proud West Australians and Brownes is synonymous with WA so we consider this to be the best possible outcome," Mr Ravenhill said.
We will continue to look for acquisitions in the industry."Brownes managing director * Ben Purcell *
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