Milk Marque's 12,000 British farmer shareholders are the new owners of a health food company selling dried fruit, nuts and seeds.

Community Foods was purchased this week by Milk Marque, the shell of the former dairy co-operative that ceased trading in 2000 over competition concerns. In a race against time, farmers voted last year to transform Milk Marque into a company to stop the £17m dregs of its assets being lost plugging its pension fund.

"Community Foods is an excellent investment," said Roger Evans, chairman of Milk Marque, pointing to pre-tax profit of £3.4m on turnover of £54.4m.

MD Bill Henry will stay on to lead the company, which is a key supplier to Tesco, Sainsbury, Holland & Barrett and independent retailers and manufacturers.

Community Foods owns brands such as the Crazy Jack snack range, and Sanchi Japanese food products, and also distributes Orgran gluten-free products, and Nature's Path organic breakfast cereals.