The Canadian government is funding the expansion of Gay Lea Foods co-operative, with a CA$16.9m investment.
The dairy sector plays an important role in Canada’s economy, contributing $20.9bn through sales by farmers and food processors. The sector is equally important in Ontario, where more than 150 dairy processors generate $6bn in sales and employ more than 8,600 people.
The co-op will receive $10m from the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario), which will support the acquisition and installation of advanced processing equipment and systems. The technology will enable Gay Lea to advance its scientific and technical capability to produce new, high value milk products, particularly for the health food and nutraceutical markets.
An additional $6.9m through the DPIF will be used to adopt innovative processes and equipment to minimise by-product waste and reduce the plant’s environmental footprint.
The investment will also help to generate 13 new skilled jobs and maintain 50 at the Teeswater facility. Set up 60 years ago, Gay Lea has 4,300 members from across 1,400 dairy farms in Ontario and Manitoba.
Marie-Claude Bibeau, minister of agriculture and agri-food, said: “Our government is proud to support Gay Lea Foods Co-operative to help the company to further develop new product lines, reduce their environmental footprint, while also creating good middle class jobs for Ontarians.”
The federal government thinks the project aligns with its recently announced Rural Economic Development Strategy, which proposes stronger collaboration and long-term strategic investments to respond to the unique needs of rural communities.
Navdeep Bains, minister of innovation, science and economic development, with responsibility for FedDev Ontario, said: “Today’s investment in Gay Lea Foods will help strengthen the important agri-food sector here in rural southern Ontario, while creating and maintaining good jobs for Canadians.”
Rob Goodwill, chair of the board, Gay Lea Foods Co-operative, also said: “Gay Lea Foods has been steadily growing a sustainable co-operative while being a preferred partner in Canadian dairy, food and beverage processing.
“The investment in our Teeswater facility is one of many investments we have committed over the last five years for not only our co-operative, but Canadian dairy farmers and a prosperous future for Canadian dairy.”
Michael Barrett, president and chief executive of Gay Lea, said the modernisation of the Teeswater facility proved that innovation and advanced manufacturing was possible in rural communities providing the right tools and partnerships were in place.
He added: “It is also a great example of progress and adaptation in Canadian dairy, as the site of Canada’s oldest creamery is now home to the creation of value-added products to serve new market opportunities.”