Canadian dairy cooperative Agropur will close a plant in Québec’s Montérégie region, saying “major investments were needed” to keep the site going.
The plant in Saint-Damase, 40km due east of Montréal, will begin winding down operations in January and will be permanently closed by April 2019.
Agropur’s soft cheese manufacturing operation at the plant will be integrated into the operations of the Saint-Hyacinthe plant, 12km away, while cheese conversion will be transferred to the Beauceville plant, not far from Québec City.
In a statement announcing the closure, Agropur said: “Major investments were needed at the [Saint-Damase] plant. In view of the inability to reach a long-term agreement with the plant’s employees and the need to honour commitments to customers, Agropur had no choice but to reorganise its investments. Operations at the plant will therefore be discontinued and it will close permanently in April 2019.”
“The cooperative must take the necessary measures to remain a major player in an increasingly competitive market. These decisions are not taken lightly. Agropur is keenly aware of the impact of today’s announcement on the plant’s employees. The affected employees will be able to take advantage of available programmes, including employment opportunities at other Agropur sites, severance packages, and the employee and family assistance programme.”
Agropur operates 39 different plants across Canada and the US, employing 8,300 members of staff and processing more than 6.1 billion litres of milk per year.
The sites at Saint-Damase, Beauceville and Saint-Hyacinthe are part of a network of 12 facilities in Québec, including six within 100km of Montréal. That will go down to five following the closure of the plant at Saint-Damase – a small town of around 2,500 people that is also home to production facilities for Canadian meat company Olymel and agri-food business Lassonde.
Agropur itself is one of North America’s most significant dairy players, generating sales in 2017 of CAD 6.4 billion ($4.95 billion). It is based in Longueuil, near Montréal.
© FoodBev Media Ltd 2019