WINCHESTER – The village’s Parmalat cheese plant recently unveiled its newly installed milk ultra-filtration system, which will be instrumental in increasing the facility’s production capacity.
The equipment was inaugurated Tues., June 13 as part of the facility’s 126th anniversary celebrations, proclaiming the innovative strides taken at the largest cheddar cheese processor in Canada.
Noted for its energy efficiency and frugal use of municipal water resources, the equipment boasts an energy recovery rate of 98 per cent.
The investment also marks the creation of five new jobs – bringing the plant’s total to 260 employees – and makes the facility the region’s largest private employer.
“The installation of our new equipment is an affirmation that the Winchester plant has its sight firmly set on future growth and innovation,” said senior vice-president of operations Jean-Paul Quiblier. “From an operational perspective, the new system presents a few benefits – it allows us to produce more cheese, provide our cheesemakers with milk of consistent composition over the years, and increase our capacity to process milk as soon as it is delivered. It gives dairy producers tangible potential for growth and increased value of their milk.”
The ultra-filtration system came to fruition after the Canadian dairy industry created a new milk class in March – called Class 7 – to price milk ingredients like protein concentrates, skim milk, and whole milk powder.
The new class is one part of a National Ingredient Strategy currently being negotiated between Canada’s dairy farmers and its dairy processors.
The aim of the agreement is to encourage investment in Canada, which will stimulate sustainable market growth.
“Agriculture is the backbone of our economy here in Ontario – that’s even more true statement of Dundas County,” said Township of North Dundas Mayor Eric Duncan. “We are here today to welcome the expansion of the plant, which is a win, but it’s also a win for our dairy industry, for local producers. I can’t be a local mayor in rural Dundas County without saying it shows the strength and stability of supply management.”
Dairy Farmers of Ontario chair Ralph Deitrich was also on-hand at the event to congratulate the Parmalat plant on its new equipment, which he said was an investment in the entire dairy industry, eventually allowing for quotas to increase locally.
The first Parmalat plant, then owned and operated by the Ault family, opened in 1891 in nearby Cass Bridge before moving to a centralized site in Winchester in the 1930s.
Dedicated to butter and cheese manufacturing, primarily the Black Diamond and Balderson brands, the plant accounts for more than 40 per cent of Parmalat’s cheese making operations in the country.