Paul Vickers, left, of Gay Lea Foods and Garnet Schellen, ADL, display some of the products the dairies produce.
SUMMERSIDE - 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.
JUST THE FACTS
FACTS ABOUT ADL
Producer owned co-op
Dairy processing and retail food distribution facilities across P.E.I.
Processes more than 100 million litres of milk each year
Milk comes from the 180 Island dairy farms
ADL employs more than 250
Provides dairy products across P.E.I. and Canada
Other markets include the U.S., Asia and Caribbean
FACTS ABOUT GAY LEA FOODS
Formed in 1958
100 per cent Canadian owned and operated
1,200 dairy farmer owners who produce 35 per cent of Ontario’s milk
More than 3,800 members
Largest dairy co-operative in Ontario
Products include Spreadables, North America’s first Smooth Cottage Cheese and 100 per cent cheese snack, Nothing But Cheese