Expansion and modernization at Amalgamated Dairies Limited’s parent plant in Summerside are creating more opportunity for the dairy’s butter plant in O’Leary.
With the Summerside plant increasing its cheese production, it is leaving more cream for the 66-year-old O’Leary plant to churn into butter.
And that has led to plans for a major project to modernize the O’Leary plant and to make it more efficient.
Plant manager Brendan Arsenault said it will be the first major modernization at the plant in the 16 years he has been working there.
The three large cream tanks protruding from the front of the building will be replaced with an upright tower for holding the cream, which is delivered to the O’Leary plant from the other ADL plants in P.E.I. three to four times a week.
Inside the plant, six pasteurizing vats collectively capable of holding 26,000 pounds of cream will be replaced with three large-batch pasteurizers capable of holding 30,000 pounds.
The changes will free up space that could be used for future expansion. As well, new efficiencies will be gained by using the steam which, until now, has been released from the plant.
“We want to work smarter and more efficiently,” said Arsenault.
He said a one-week production shutdown is anticipated in June while the new equipment is installed.
“By working together we will ensure ADL is able to respond to market realities and continue supporting the P.E.I. dairy industry,” said Kent Rennie, one of several dairy producers in attendance for Monday’s funding announcement.
ADL employs about 250 Islanders, of which five work full-time at the company’s butter plant.
The Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency is providing ADL with a $400,000 repayable contribution and the P.E.I. Department of Economic Development is providing the Island’s largest processor of dairy products with a $100,000 grant to help with the changes that the O’Leary plant is about to undergo.
Egmont MP Bobby Morrissey said the funding announced Monday is for the first phase of an anticipated multi-phase modernization of the O’Leary plant.
Morrissey used much of his speaking time to promote elements in last week’s federal budget aimed at softening the blow supply-managed commodity groups felt in recent free-trade deals and concessions, including the dairy industry.
“We are conscious and well aware of the fact that the dairy industry in Canada had to give some to allow Canada to successfully finalize these agreements which provided significant benefits to the country,” he said.
Morrissey said the federal government identified $3.9 billion to support supply-managed farmers in dealing with income losses from the trade agreements, and it also provides protection against reductions in quota value.
“This is about delivery,” said provincial Agriculture Minister Robert Henderson, whose O’Leary-Inverness riding includes the butter plant.
He said the process starts with the Island’s 160 producers delivering the highest quality product. He pointed to a 35 per cent increase in butter consumption in Canada since 2007, and expressed confidence the modernization will enhance Prince Edward Island’s reputation as Canada’s Food Island.
Arsenault pointed to a willingness to deliver: “Our team is dedicated to producing high-quality food products and we take great pride in every element of our work,” he said.
ADL Butter Plant, O’Leary P.E.I.
- In operation since 1953
- 2018 production was 2.6 million pounds of butter
- Employs five full-time, one part time
- Modernization plan expected to cost $800,000
- ADL gets $100,000 grant from province and $400,000 repayable loan from ACOA