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Australian family-run dairy company snapped up by international giant

By Tess De La Mare

Italian dairy and food corporation Parmalat has expanded its presence in Australasia with the acquisition of a Western Australian family dairy products and fruit juice business.

Parmalat, owned by France's Besnier family via their dairy giant Lactalis, bought 28-year-old Harvey Fresh in a €79 million deal this week.

The Sorgiovanni, Bonavita and Scolara families founded the company in 1986, and it is now the second-largest dairy business in the region – it has 250 employees and saw revenues of €113 million last year.

Harvey Fresh exports its long-life dairy products to Southeast Asia, and it also has its own wine division in Western Australia.

The company's four board members are descendents of the founding families, and they said they would remain involved in the company for the next few years.

Kevin Sorgiovanni, who is the company's marketing and sales director, said he thought boosting productivity was more important than Harvey Fresh retaining its status as a family-owned brand.

He said in a statement: "Parmalat has expressed a strong desire to drive expansion, which will provide additional opportunities for our suppliers."

Parmalat has been owned by Lactalis, the largest dairy products company in the world, since July 2011.

In late 2012, Lactalis bought another Australian brand, Jindi Cheese, for AU$20 million (€13.4 million).

Lactalis is currently headed by third-gen Emmanuel Besnier – one of the richest men in France with a fortune $8.1 billion (€5.9 billion).