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Pine River Cheese closing this year

Production is winding down at the Pine River Cheese and Butter Co-operative South of Kincardine, with 25 employees affected.

CEO Ulrike Prehn said they will wrap up production by the end of the month to allow customers to transition to new suppliers.

Prehn says a devastating fire on September 7, 2010, was the beginning of the end, after 134 years in business.

“A year of plant reconstruction and a shutdown resulted in the co-operative’s erosion of market share across Ontario, so the start was actually a little bit prior to the fire, as there were some challenges in the market,” explained Prehn.

It was the second fire at the facility after flames destroyed over half of the original building in 1981.

The co-operative is owned by local farmers. Prehn said Dairy Farmers of Ontario will redistribute the milk supply to other local processors.

“So as an example, there’s Teeswater Gay Lea, up the road. And there will be other factories that will absorb probably some of the sales,” she added.

The store will be open for a few months while supplies last, and customers like Sobeys have been given a transition period to find new suppliers.