Federal Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food Marie-Claude Bibeau in Teeswater at Gay Lea on July 24, 2019. (Photo by Adam Bell)

Gay Lea in Teeswater looks to the future

Gay Lea Foods in Teeswater is putting in some advanced processing equipment.

The company is getting a $6.9 million grant through the Dairy Processing Investment Fund and a $10 million loan through FedDev Ontario.   This will allow Gay Lea Foods to advance its scientific and technical capability to produce new, high value milk products, particularly for the health food and nutraceutical markets.

The investment will accelerate growth by supporting product and market diversification, and increase production to capitalize on market expansion opportunities.

Michael Barrett is the President & CEO of Gay Lea Foods.

“To be able to develop a product that allows us to be able to take milk, enrich it, sometimes separate its components and be able to utilize it in different areas.   It is important for the Canadian industry to be able to do that but you’re not going to be able to do that without this kind of investment,” said Barrett.

The money will also help Gay Lea adopt innovative processes and equipment to minimize by-product waste and reduce the plant’s environmental footprint.

“Gay Lea Foods has been steadily growing a sustainable co-operative while being a preferred partner in Canadian dairy, food and beverage processing,” said Rob Goodwill, Chair of the Board for Gay Lea Foods Co-operative Ltd.    “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.”

The project will also provide additional capacity, and as such the co-operative will use more high-quality milk from Ontario’s dairy farmers in the making of their value-added products.

The combined investment will create approximately 13 new skilled jobs and help to maintain 50 at the Teeswater facility.

“The important part here in my mind is that we now have a plant that is capable of producing products comparable to anyone in the world,” said Mildmay’s Ralph Dietrich, Chair of Dairy Farmers of Canada. “That’s something for all of us in Canada to be proud of and appreciative of.”

The investment also ripples into the community showing confidence in the local dairy sector.

“The dairy farmers here in this region, they’ve invested their own blood sweat and tears and their own finances in their own properties,” said Huron-Bruce MP Ben Lobb.    “There is no country in the world that has a dairy sector like ours with technologically advanced equipment and first rate livestock.”

One of Gay Lea’s strongest partners is Chapman’s Ice Cream, whose dairy mix comes out of the facility.

And Huron-Bruce MPP Lisa Thompson spoke, saying Canadians are starting to recognize the impact Agri-Food has on the country’s GDP.     She says cooperative spirit is what keeps small towns going.

The Teeswater facility is Canada’s oldest creamery, started in 1875.

–with files from Adam Bell