Challenge: Building a sustainable business in the dairy sector
Solution: Relying on an established business model – and looking to the future
There is strength in numbers. Amalgamated Dairies Limited (ADL) has lived by that successful philosophy since 1953 when seven independent dairy producers joined forces. “We’ve been building on that recipe ever since the days when there was a cheese processor in every community. Local dairies need to pool their resources,” says ADL’s Business Development Manager Chad Mann in Summerside, PEI.
Today the 165 dairy producers on Prince Edward Island are all members of ADL. “Primary producers have some ownership in their resource,” notes Chad. “This is an older business model, but it resonates strongly in the current climate. It is a sustainable model.”
The foundation for Amalgamated Dairies is well rooted in proven co-op approaches to establishing a business, but planning for future growth is also a cornerstone of the company, which produces cheese, milk, butter, and more. Following on a 2016 strategic planning excerise, the company chose to make significant investments in milk processing facilities in Summerside and Charlottetown. “The food culture in PEI is very vibrant,” says Chad. “Cooking shows love dairy products, and some older ones like evaporated milk have found new life.”
The heart of the company, however, remains cheese. Seventy per cent of milk that flows into the plant finds its way into cheese production, a market that still grows at three to four per cent a year. ADL has moved into speciality cheese markets, including feta and havarti. “We’re a modern dairy co-op,” says Chad. “We’ve found a way to be exciting in what is often seen as a not-so-exciting industry.”
What won’t change is ADL’s continued commitment to quality, business growth, and efficiency. The company is currently undergoing a $12 million expansion. This includes the construction of a $3 million, 1,858 square-metre warehouse to enhance cheese curing and refrigerated storage capability.
For new entrepreneurs and companies in the food sector looking to expand their bottom line, Chad has two pieces of advice: be patient, and be creative. “With food production and retail selling, it can take years to get a product on the shelf. And the landscape is changing. There will be a major shift in how people access food in the future, so look at how products will get to the consumer tomorrow.”
Accessing financial capital is something the Government of Canada recognizes as critical to building, growing and scaling a business. With support from the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA), the government is helping Amalgamated Dairies Limited expand its operations. Recent investments totalling just over $1 million will go towards the installation of new equipment, which will grow capacity at the cheese plant by 30%, allowing the company to develop new products and diversify their business lines.
Amalgamated Dairies Limited is a prime example of how innovation and resourcefulness fuel Atlantic Canada’s economy, at home and beyond.
Do you have a business concept? Do you have an innovative idea to improve or grow your business? For more information on programs and services available to businesses in Atlantic Canada call 1-800-561-7862 or go to canada.ca/acoa.