November 5/Food & Farm Week -- ACH Food Companies Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Associated British Foods, and Archer Daniels Midland Company (ADM) announced the creation, with immediate effect, of Stratas Foods LLC, a joint venture for the manufacture, marketing and distribution of packaged oil products in the U.S. and Canada. ABF and ADM will each hold a 50% share in the joint venture.

Stratas Foods will serve the foodservice, specialty food ingredient and retail private label bottled oil markets. It is expected to produce 2.5 billion pounds of oil in its first full year of operation. Its broad portfolio of products includes vegetable oil, shortening, margarine and pan spray, and its foodservice brands include Whirl and Frymax.

Headquartered in Memphis, Tenn., the joint venture combines the sales and marketing expertise of ACH and the origination and processing capabilities of ADM. It will offer an integrated supply chain, exceptional processing capabilities, product development and customer relations. Dan Antonelli, currently president of ACH, is chief executive officer of Stratas Foods.

Mark Zenuk, vice president, Global Oilseeds, ADM, said, "By joining ADM's sourcing and processing with ACH's sales and marketing, Stratas Foods will benefit both customers and shareholders." Zenuk continued, "ADM's integrated and efficient processing operations and ACH's access to higher-margin markets will help keep costs low and enhance profitability. We are proud to join with ABF in creating a world-class packaged oil business."

George Weston, chief executive of Associated British Foods, added, "This transaction is a substantial step forward in the development of our U.S. oils business. The new joint venture with ADM will strengthen our U.S. packaged oils business and will significantly enhance its long-term growth prospects. ACH will focus on the growth of its retail consumer brands. We look forward to working with ADM to ensure this joint venture realizes its full potential."

From the November 10, 2008, Prepared Foods e-Flash