After months of pandemic-induced delays, a new Peterborough-area milk processor is up and running.
Fairlife – a division of Coca Cola – first announced plans to construct the facility in June, 2018. Launch day, originally scheduled for this past spring, was delayed when personnel responsible for final construction and operational checks were unable to enter Canada’s now-closed borders.
Why it matters: The Fairlife plant will source only Canadian milk to supply the Canadian market. It’s another buyer for Canadian dairy producers, though the company has not revealed how much milk it will use.
In a previous interview with Farmtario, Carolyn Novick, director for Fairlife Canada, said the company had planned on importing experts on their specific equipment and processing systems in order to get the plant up and running. But with the onset of the virus, that proved impossible.
“It was always anticipated to have everyone there. As you can imagine having an $85 million plant [in operation] is no small feat,” said Novick in a recent interview.
As of this writing, the company’s two per cent, skim milk, and whole milk lines are now in production. A number of dairy producers in the vicinity were also recently invited to tour the now-operational facility.
Sourcing from Ontario
Fairlife products being sold in Canada were originally sourced from dairy farms in the United States, but the new Peterborough facility will operate exclusively on Canadian milk. Novick reiterates the plant will supply all domestic demand for its protein-enhanced, sugar-reduced milk brand.
All milk processed at the facility will come from the general Ontario pool. But how much the facility will use has not been made public since, as Novick describes, the company does “not publicly discuss sales.” However, she also says the plant was built with possible expansion in mind, and that Fairlife’s marketing strategies has been proving successful in increasing sales.
The Fairlife facility was built in Peterborough because Coca Cola already operates a Minute Maid juice plant in the region. Novick says this allowed the company to take advantage of production efficiencies, such as preexisting warehouse infrastructure.