Brattleboro yogurt-maker Commonwealth sold to Stonyfield parent

BRATTLEBORO, Vt. (WCAX) A Brattleboro yogurt-maker has new owners-- a big, international dairy corporation based in France.

Our Adam Sullivan is still trying to learn more about the deal. But we do know that Ehrmann Commonwealth Dairy has been bought by a company called Lactalis that dubs itself the world's largest dairy corporation.

At least one employee at the Brattleboro plant is cautiously optimistic about the deal.

"My first thought was, you know, do they bring in their own people?" Mathew Whitcomb said.

Whitcomb just recently started working at Ehrmann Commonwealth Dairy in the packaging department. We bumped into him during shift change outside the Brattleboro yogurt plant.

"A lot of people have been here awhile. They know what they are doing with these machines and stuff," Whitcomb said.

The machines make yogurt under the Green Mountain Creamery label, along with other generic brands. Commonwealth employs about 250 workers between its Brattleboro plant and another facility in Arizona.

Lactalis, whose U.S. headquarters are in Buffalo, closed on the deal to buy the business July 5. The terms of the sale have not been disclosed.

"What we do know is there is capacity to grow the plant in Brattleboro," said Adam Grinold of the Brattleboro Development Credit Corporation.

The Brattleboro Development Credit Corporation help recruit Commonwealth to Vermont. The German-owned company broke ground on its 39,000-square-foot facility in 2010 and has been growing since, using Vermont cows for much of its milk supply. In 2015, a $20 million expansion was announced, though officials say that project never came to fruition.

"We have already done a lot of work with the state and the town to understand how we can support a project and growth like that, so we look forward to being able to show Lactalis those plans," Grinold said.

Commonwealth is not the only yogurt-maker in our region Lactalis has purchased. In 2017, the French company bought New Hampshire's Stonyfield Farm for a reported $875 million.

Officials in Vermont say Commonwealth is just as appealing for those in the dairy industry.

Grinold said, "The Vermont brand, Vermont milk, it's the human capital that they acquired in that plant."

Employees like Whitcomb, who says he was assured he'll have a job moving forward.

"They said they like the way things are here and they say management says good things about the crew and they kind of want to keep everybody there," he said.

WCAX News reached out to Commonwealth management for comment on the sale. We were referred to Lactalis officials in Buffalo. We called them, as well, but did not hear back before this story was published.