Sixty Years Strong

CBJ Newsmakers

Canadian dairy co-operative Gay Lea Foods caps a transitional year in the Canadian dairy industry with a nod to the past and plan for the future

MISSISSAUGA, Ontario, Jan. 22, 2019 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Gay Lea Foods Co-operative Limited (“Gay Lea Foods”) held its 60th Annual Meeting of shareholders in Mississauga, Ontario, on January 22, 2019, culminating a year-long celebration of the co-operative’s value-driven growth and success in what would become a tumultuous year for the Canadian dairy industry.

Beginning with the launch of a modernized new brand identity in January 2018, the co-operative continued to define itself as a preferred dairy supplier, product innovator and engaged partner in the Canadian agriculture and agri-food sector in the months that followed. Planned expansions to the co-operative’s foods and ingredients business in 2018 included: the acquisition of Alberta Cheese; the construction of a Gay Lea Dairy Innovation Centre in Hamilton, Ontario; investment in a new, central distribution centre in Brampton, Ontario; the opening of a collaborative, year-round Co-operative Education Centre (CEC) at the Gay Lea Dairy Museum in Aylmer, Ontario, and; ongoing construction in Teeswater and Hamilton, Ontario, where the initial phase of the co-operative’s $140 million capital investment plan to build an innovative nutraceutical-grade dairy ingredients hub in Canada is nearly complete.

The co-op was also named the 2018 Large Co-operative of the Year by Co-operatives and Mutuals Canada (CMC) and was the joint recipient of the Ontario Association of Food Banks’ 2018 Paul Mistele Memorial Award, which recognizes agricultural partners who have shown a significant and enduring commitment to ending hunger in Ontario.

“The past year was one of celebration, community, challenge and change,” said Gay Lea Foods Chair, Rob Goodwill. “On one hand, we saw the investments we’ve made to grow our business, support our communities, contribute to the social and economic framework of our country, and reinforce a strong, sustainable and growing dairy industry in Canada take shape. On the other, we experienced the destabilizing impact of trade concessions and continued pressure on our industry from south of the border.”

The changing landscape necessitated a serious re-assessment of the co-operative’s strategic opportunities, said Goodwill, but not its priorities or resolve.

“Our commitment remains, first and foremost, to our members and to building a strong and sustainable co-operative business within a thriving and growing Canadian dairy sector.”

Indeed, 2018 proved to be another record year for Gay Lea Foods, with the co-operative realizing record sales, record profits, record processing volumes, record membership growth, and record investment returns for the fifth consecutive year in a row. Future plans revealed at the January 2019 meeting included the strengthening of Gay Lea Foods’ butter, cheese and whip business through product and process innovation that responds to market and consumer demands, and a continued focus on leading the Canadian dairy industry as an innovative, market-driven and sustainable dairy co-operative. As always, the co-operative will remain steadfast in its values-based commitment to co-operative education and community well-being, exemplified through the charitable projects it supports through the Gay Lea Foundation.

“Change is inevitable,” said President & CEO Michael Barrett, “and it is in times of uncertainty that we need leadership and vision the most. Gay Lea Foods will continue to plan and invest, support our key principles and advocate for our industry. This is our history, our passion and our commitment to the future.”

Gay Lea Foods is as renowned for its co-operative-inspired values as it is for its quality products: from the moment our milk is Born on the Farm, until our products reach the table, our farmers, members and employees collaborate to meet member needs, contribute to the sustainable development of communities, and ensure that Gay Lea Foods is well positioned to lead as a thriving and innovative Canadian food business. 100% Canadian-owned and operated, the co-operative is the first of its kind to include licensed dairy cow and dairy goat members, and process both kinds of milk into a range of dairy products – from the consumer favourite Spreadables and North America’s first SmoothTM Cottage Cheese, to Nothing But CheeseTM, an innovative snack made with 100% cheese.

Gay Lea Foods

Robin Redstone
Communications Manager, Gay Lea Foods

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