Cheese company buys Castleton CrackersBy Bruce Edwards
STAFF WRITER | December 07,2012There’s no denying cheese and crackers are an irresistible combination.
It’s also a match that Castleton Crackers and Vermont Farmstead Cheese Company couldn’t resist, either.
On Thursday, Vermont Farmstead Cheese announced that it had acquired Castleton Crackers from founder Whitney Lamy.
Five years after baking her first batch of crackers at her Castleton home, Lamy said Castleton Crackers had grown to the point where it was the right time to sell the company.
Lamy, who will now head the Castleton Food Division of Vermont Farmstead Cheese, said her new job means spending less time “on administrative work and really getting out there doing product development and sales and marketing.”
She said Castleton Crackers will continue to be made at the bakery in Manchester.
Merger discussions with the South Woodstock cheese company began a couple of months ago and culminated with Thursday’s announcement, Lamy said. No sale price was disclosed.
For Vermont Farmstead Cheese, the acquisition fits with the company’s plan to add a cracker line, said Vince Galluccio, a member of the Vermont Farmstead board of directors and its former chairman.
“We share the same distributors; we share the same retailers,” Galluccio said. “So it’s a great move economically for both companies to help each other expand.”
He said the acquisition will free up Lamy to “do her entrepreneurial thing.”
“It looks like it was meant to happen,” Galluccio said. “Whitney is a great, great person and well respected in the industry.”
An official announcement will be made at noon, Saturday at the Rutland winter farmers’ market on West Street — nearly five years after Lamy started her company in January 2008.
From a business perspective, she said the cheese and cracker companies complement each other.
“In my research, what really excites me is even nationwide, I don’t know of any other cheese and cracker companies that have come together like this, especially artisan companies that really complement each other,” Lamy said.
Looking ahead, Lamy said the merged company wants to build the Vermont brand. “They’re rolling out shortly a line of salad dressings and dips and spreads that uses the leftover whey from their cheesemaking operations,” she said.
In that same sustainable vein, Castleton Crackers will be using Vermont Farmstead ingredients in Lamy’s recipes.
Galluccio said Vermont Farmstead Cheese has its sights set on increasing production. The company’s cheese is already available in 32 states and will make its debut on the West Coast in March.
“So, we’re hoping to bring Castleton Crackers along with us, too, as that offering of cheese and crackers,” he said. “I think there are a lot of synergies there from a marketing side and we’re looking to capitalize on that.”
He said the company has approximately 16 employees with plans to hire another dozen.
Galluccio said Vermont Farmstead has enjoyed success in part because it found a niche making “old world cheeses” that many companies don’t do. Other factors in its success are owed to having an excellent cheesemaker on board, dedicated employees and a sound marketing strategy, he said.
Castleton Crackers (www.castletoncrackers.com) is sold in stores in 26 states. The handcrafted crackers are sold in several varieties, including Middlebury Maple and Rutland Rye.
Vermont Farmstead Cheese (vermontfarmstead.com) makes a variety of artisan cheeses, including cheddar and Windsordale. The company, which operates its own dairy, recently expanded to the Windsor Industrial Park, where it operates a production facility and retail/visitor center.
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