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Horizon Organic eyeing snacks beyond dairy aisle

Candice Choi, AP Food Industry Writer

NEW YORK (AP) -- The maker of Horizon Organic milk is looking beyond the dairy aisle to introduce snacks such as cookies and crackers.

WhiteWave CEO Gregg Engles declined to "pin it to a time frame" but said the dry-goods snacks should be available within the next year. Horizon Organic, which bears a logo of a leaping cartoon cow against a red backdrop, was established in 1991 and is the largest seller of branded organic milk.

In addition to milk, Horizon Organic also makes yogurt for kids, cheese sticks, butter, cottage cheese and cream cheese.

Organic milk has been growing rapidly over the past decade but still only accounts for roughly 5 percent of the broader dairy market, Engles said. While traditional milk has been declining, he said organic milk is expected to grow at mid-single digits in coming years.

That promising growth prospect was one reason WhiteWave Foods Co. was spun off from dairy company Dean Foods last year. WhiteWave also took Silk soy milk, International Delight coffee creamer and Land O' Lakes half and half.

"We have an opportunity with the Horizon Organic brand to take it into a bunch of other interesting alternatives beyond dairy," Engles said, noting that the brand is trusted by moms.

Shares of WhiteWave were up 1 percent at $18. Shares of Dean Foods, which said it completed its spin-off of WhiteWave late Thursday, were up 3 percent at $9.98.

Dean Foods Co. still own about 20 percent of WhiteWave.