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Gay Lea aims high for 2017

At the company's Annual General Meeting this week, Gay Lea's president and CEO highlighted 2016 accomplishments and outlined growth plans for 2017


Mississauga, Ont.-based Gay Lea Foods Co-operative Limited is aiming for major growth in 2017, with plans for an expansion of its foods and ingredients business as well as for continued investment in innovation.

At the company’s Annual General Meeting this week, Michael Barrett, Gay Lea’s president and CEO, highlighted the co-operative’s achievements in 2016 while also outlining optimistic plans for growth, innovation and industry leadership for 2017. He declared last year “a banner year” for Gay Lea Foods, shining the spotlight on the following accomplishments:

* Becoming the first North American co-operative to welcome both dairy goat and dairy cow members

* An investment and partnership in Mariposa Dairy, the fastest-growing goat cheese business in North America

* The launch of innovative new aged goat cheddar cheeses

* The addition of Black River Cheese and Stirling Creamery

* Record membership growth, processing volumes, sales and profitability

* Record fundraising by employees and delegates for the Gay Lea Foundation, the official registered charity of Gay Lea Foods

* Continued investment in employee training and professional development programs

According to a Gay Lea press release, among the notable decisions at the 2017 AGM was a move by Gay Lea Foods’ delegates to expand membership eligibility to dairy farmers in Manitoba. This move follows the co-operative’s November 2016 announcement that it has entered into a joint venture with Vitalus Nutrition Inc. to process dairy ingredients and butter in Winnipeg. Dairy Farmers of Manitoba will supply the raw milk for the processing facility, creating new market opportunities for milk from Manitoba farms.

The Board of Directors also announced the appointment of an outside director from Manitoba. Meredith Miller-Delichte, a dairy farmer from St. Alphonse, Manitoba has accepted the position of director.

“We are excited to have the full support of delegates to extend the membership opportunity to bovine dairy farmers in Manitoba,” says Gay Lea Foods Chair Steve Dolson. “As we expand into Manitoba to increase processing of Manitoba milk, we welcome our fellow dairy farmers in Manitoba the same opportunity to be member owners This is the second consecutive year that our delegates have embraced change and commitment to the Co-operative principle of open and voluntary membership.”

“As a dairy farmer owned co-operative, Gay Lea Foods is a firm believer in industry-led solutions to grow the market for Canadian cow and goat milk,” adds Barrett. “The past year was a successful, record-setting year for our co-operative and we look forward to the year ahead as we continue to drive our co-operative forward through research and development, leading edge technologies, and innovative products favoured by consumers in households across Canada.”


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