Dairies join forces

ADL and Gay Lea Foods of On­tario launch Co-op­er­a­tive Dairy Al­liance

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - THE PROVINCE - BY NANCY MACPHEE

It’s an al­liance Jim Bradley hopes will help Amal­ga­mated Dairies Ltd. grow.

ADL and Gay Lea Foods, the largest dairy co-op­er­a­tive in On­tario, are join­ing forces by launch­ing the Co-op­er­a­tive Dairy Al­liance.

Bradley, ADL’s CEO and gen­eral man­ager, said re­cently that the move is not a merger or the first step to a merger, with no ac­tual money in­volved.

“The board of di­rec­tors of each of the or­ga­ni­za­tions has ex­pressed the im­por­tance they place on their in­de­pen­dence. It has noth­ing to do with a merger,” he added. “It is the two co-op­er­a­tives work­ing to­gether in their pro­cess­ing tech­nol­ogy and on ser­vic­ing mar­kets.”

The move could re­sult in milk “in­di­rectly” com­ing into pro­duc­tion on Prince Ed­ward Is­land, pos­si­bly im­ported from some of Gay Lea’s 1,200 dairy farm­ers.

Is­land milk would not be ex­ported out­side of P.E.I. for pro­duc­tion else­where. Bradley would not con­firm that by form­ing the al­liance an ex­pan­sion was in the works for ADL. He also wouldn’t say if more jobs would be added. When asked how two seem­ingly com­pet­i­tive com­pa­nies came to­gether, Bradley said that with the ex­cep­tion of one item, their prod­uct lines do not over­lap.

“The only prod­uct that there is a com­mon­al­ity on is cheese. The re­al­ity is the cheese prod­ucts that are the core busi­ness for each of us are quite dif­fer­ent,” he added. “We both have... a fairly unique and sep­a­rate prod­uct. We don’t see our­selves as be­ing di­rectly in com­pe­ti­tion with one an­other.”

That helped in the two co-op­er­a­tives mov­ing for­ward with the new al­liance. Each has some­thing to of­fer the other, noted Bradley.

“We’ve got a great work­force here, lots of fresh milk, lots of pro­cess­ing tech­nol­ogy for cheese and evap­o­rated milk that they don’t have,” he added. “They cer­tainly have things we don’t have ac­cess to or can’t fund at the level that we need to.”

“Al­though we do some re­search and de­vel­op­ment and prod­uct de­vel­op­ment, we can’t fund an R&D depart­ment at the level that we need to be in to­day’s com­pet­i­tive econ­omy,” he said.

“This is an op­por­tu­nity for us to work with a larger R&D group with our ideas with­out hav­ing a fear that those ideas will be taken and prod­uct to com­mer­cial pro­duc­tion by some­body else.”

Bradley would not elab­o­rate on what those prod­ucts are, but he did say they could be on the mar­ket within the year.

“All the dairy pro­duc­ers in the prov­ince are mem­bers of ADL,” he said. “We need to be able to pro­vide ac­cess to mar­kets and di­ver­si­fied prod­ucts and mod­ern pro­cess­ing plants for pro­duc­ers to be able to have a se­cure place for their milk.”

ADL em­ploys more than 250 peo­ple and has 180 dairy pro­ducer mem­bers.

SUB­MIT­TED PHOTO

Paul Vick­ers, left, of Gay Lea Foods and Gar­net Schellen, ADL, dis­play some of the prod­ucts the dairies pro­duce.

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