New cheese plant brings economic boost to Sorel-Tracy and local Quebec dairy producers
The federal government is making an investment of up to $5 million to help Fromageries Bel Canada build the first Mini Babybel plant in Canada in Sorel-Tracy, Quebec. Mini Babybel cheese was previously made in the European Union or the United States, using non-Canadian dairy. Now, it will be made in Sorel-Tracy, using 100% locally-sourced milk.
The investment, provided through the AgriInnovate program, supported plant construction and the introduction of new technologies like moulding lines, waxing and a quality control system. The plant is expected to increase demand for Canadian dairy by 39 million liters annually and create over 140 full-time jobs in the Sorel-Tracy area.
“Bel Canada is a great story of foreign investment and knowledge transfer has made it possible to grow and market their cheeses, which are already very popular, but now made with our own milk. In doing so, their most recent processing plant is contributing to the economic vitality of the region of Sorel-Tracey, the creation of good jobs, increase in the demand for Canadian milk and our food security.” – The Honourable Marie-Claude Bibeau, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food
“We are very proud to welcome the financial support of the Department of Agriculture and Agri-Food. This financial assistance enabled us to carry out a promising project for the construction of a state-of-the-art plant. This is not only excellent news for the Canadian dairy sector, but also for the regional Quebec economy. Almost 140 quality local jobs have been created thanks to this project. The plant will be entirely dedicated to the production of Mini Babybel and will supply the entire Canadian market. We will continue to assert our position in the Quebec and Canadian dairy industry while contributing to the economic development of our beautiful Quebec regions.” – Cristine Laforest, General Manager, Fromageries Bel Canada
The AgriInnovate funding of up to $5 million builds on a federal contribution of $2.7 million made in 2018, through Canada Economic Development for Quebec Regions.
The AgriInnovate program aims to accelerate the commercialization, adoption and/or demonstration of innovative products, technologies, processes or services that increase sector competitiveness and sustainability.
The AgriInnovate program is part of the Canadian Agricultural Partnership, a five-year (2018-2023), $3-billion investment by federal, provincial and territorial governments to strengthen agriculture and agri-food sector.
In 2019, there were almost 500 dairy processors in Canada, including approximately 190 in Quebec. Quebec dairy processors accounted for 30% of total dairy manufacturing sales, reaching nearly $4.47 billion annually, and more than 10,000 direct jobs.
Fromageries Bel Canada created its subsidiary in 2005. This spurred the development of the Group’s operations across Canada and implemented a local production strategy.
The Mini Babybel® plant in Sorel-Tracy has been operational since August 2020.