Sheese maker Bute Island Foods bought by Saputo

Montreal-based dairy products giant Saputo Inc. said it completed the acquisition of Scottish company Bute Island Foods, which employs around 180 staff and makes vegan cheese alternative Sheese as well as own-brand products.

Saputo owns labels including Cathedral City, Country Life and Utterly Butterly.

“We are delighted to welcome the Bute Island Foods team and the wealth of knowledge they bring to our global family,” said Saputo CEO Lino Saputo.

“Our commitment remains to expand our footprint in the dairy alternatives space to meet the changing demands of our customers and consumers.

“This investment marks an important milestone that will allow us to accelerate our growth in this area globally, putting innovation at the forefront of our priorities.”

Saputo said it would pledge about £3 million over five years to support local Bute Island community initiatives.

Law firm Dentons predicted a surge in activity in the vegan and plant-based food market after its Scottish offices advised Bute Island Foods on the sale.

Bute Island Foods was advised by Lorna McCaa, a tax partner in Dentons’ Glasgow office, Adam Knowles, a corporate senior associate in the firm’s Edinburgh office, and Brian Moore, a corporate partner who is also based in Edinburgh.

The deal marks the first major transaction in the vegan market for Dentons’ Scottish team, building on its experience in the wider food and drink sector.

McCaa said: “We expect to see much more activity in the plant-based and vegan sector in the months ahead.

“There’s huge demand out there for high-quality, authentic products like Sheese, which is shown by the number of brands asking Bute Island Foods to make own-label products.

“It’s fantastic for a Scottish company with the heritage and provenance of Bute Island Foods to attract the attention of an international player like Saputo.

“Appearing on the radar of a global entity is down to the quality of the products being made by the company and the efficient way in which the team runs its business.

“We’re looking forward to supporting other businesses like Bute Island Foods on the next steps in their growth journey.”

Bute Island Foods said: “Becoming part of Saputo will help us to bring Sheese and our other products to a much wider audience.

“As we approach our 35th anniversary, we’re excited to be taking this next step on our journey and we thank Dentons for helping us spread our wings.”

The sale of Bute Island Foods to Saputo is the latest food and drink deal involving Dentons’ Scottish offices.

The firm advised on deals including Robert Wiseman Dairies’ takeover by Müller, and the sale of First Milk’s hard cheese business to Adams Foods and its sports nutrition business to Protein Partners.