Closeup of teat being milked in parlour© Tim Scrivener

The UK’s largest independently owned dairy group, Meadow Foods, has received a strategic investment from US private equity firm Paine & Partners.

Paine and Partners are believed to have purchased a 35% shareholding in the company, however business co-founders the Chantler family will remain substantial shareholders and there are no plans to change the executive management or business structure.

The announcement confirms the story run exclusively by Farmers Weekly at the end of last week dispelling rumours posted online and on social media that Meadow Foods had been taken over by the US firm.

See also: Majority of UK consumers would pay more for milk

Meadow Foods, who have 550 producers, said the move is part of its plans to grow the business through organic expansion and acquisitions.

“This investment represents a new and exciting phase in the continued development of our business and will open new avenues of opportunity for all of our producer partners, customers and employees,” said Simon Chantler, executive chairman of Meadow Foods.

“In Meadow Foods, we are making a strategic investment in an industry leader that we believe is poised for continued growth,” added Dexter Paine, chairman, CEO and founding partner of Paine & Partners.

“We see opportunities to drive growth both organically by increasing production, enhancing capabilities and expanding into new product lines and markets and through strategic acquisitions that leverage the company’s supply network and customer relationships.”

Paine & Partners is a leading agribusiness investment firm, with a portfolio of food and agricultural businesses based across the globe.