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Canadian milk supplier in the dark over delayed Chobani construction plans

By Mark Astley , 18-Jan-2013

Canadian milk supplier in the dark over Chobani construction plans

Dairy Farmers of Ontario (DFO) has been offered no “further details” of Chobani’s Canadian manufacturing plant construction plans - despite being lined-up to supply the Greek yogurt giant’s proposed new facility.

Speaking with DairyReporter.com, DFO director of communications Graham Lloyd revealed that the milk marketing group was not made aware of Chobani’s plans to indefinitely postpone the construction until a week before work was due to begin.

In November 2011, DFO agreed to make a supply of milk and skim milk available to Chobani “to satisfy their business plan” after it was approached by the New York-based yogurt manufacturer.

In late November 2012, Chobani contacted DFO via letter informing them that a planned ground breaking ceremony in December 2012 was to be postponed.

No further construction details

“In November 2012, we were invited to a ground breaking ceremony that was cancelled,” said Lloyd.

When cancelled, we made inquiries and learned that they were not prepared to proceed with a 2013 national launch, but, as at December 2012, were still planning to proceed with Ontario construction.”

DairyReporter.com reported earlier this week that Chobani has been forced to postpone the nationwide launch of its Greek yogurt products in Canada after external “circumstances” led to a delay in its plans to build a manufacturing plant in Kingston, Ontario.

“We do not have any further details about their plans at the stage, other than their last advice that the decision to delay a national launch does not mean they are not proceeding with construction,” he said.

Despite the delays, and lack of communication, the milk supplier “remains committed” to working with Chobani.

“DFO remains committed to working with them to facilitate wherever permitted their Ontario production,” said Lloyd.

Permits “may have” been extended

In 2012, Chobani revealed that it had begun preparations to build a manufacturing plant in Canada, after securing two short-term permits to import its products form the US.

The permits – a three month Test Permit and an additional 12 month Bridging Permit – were granted to support Chobani’s supply of the Greater Toronto Area while a facility was built in the country.

These permits are, however, set to expire in February 2013.

It is currently unclear whether these permits will be extended. DairyReporter.com pressed Chobani on the issue earlier this month, but the company declined to comment.

But, according to Lloyd, these permits may have already been extended.

“We understand they were granted Supplementary Import Permits to import product while they were preparing for Ontario production. We do not have the details of extensions, but understand they may have received an extension in time due to the delays resulting from the court proceedings,” said Lloyd.

A decision to extend the current permits would not be popular among Chobani’s Canadian yogurt rivals – three of whom previously launched an unsuccessful legal challenge in an attempt to reverse the initial decision.

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