Gay Lea Foods takes over Stirling Creamery, creates JV in Manitoba

By Jim Cornall

- Last updated on GMT

Gay Lea Foods has taken over Ontario-based Stirling Creamery, which makes butters such as Churn 84.
Gay Lea Foods has taken over Ontario-based Stirling Creamery, which makes butters such as Churn 84.

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Canadian company Gay Lea Foods Co-operative Limited has announced it has entered into an agreement to acquire the business of The Stirling Creamery Limited, effective November 1, 2016.

The announcement comes a day after Gay Lea Foods announced plans to invest in new dairy processing in Manitoba.

The purchase of Stirling Creamery builds upon Gay Lea Foods’ existing butter operation in Guelph, Ontario, and supports the co-operative’s plan to create sustainable, long-term solutions for growth within the Canadian dairy industry.

Butters and spreads

Located in the village of Stirling, Ontario, Stirling Creamery produces a range of artisanal crafted natural and flavored butters, including Churn 84 European-style butters, whey butter, Stirling Premium Balls, and a variety of flavored medallions and spreads for foodservice.

The creamery was established by the West family in 1925 and has been owned and operated by Butterball Farms (U.S.) since 2006.

Gay Lea Foods said that the purchase increases the company’s production capacity, and supports its core principle concern for investment in rural communities.

High demand market

The deal will also provide Gay Lea Foods with added flexibility to meet customer needs in the current high-demand market for butter.

Gay Lea Foods said it intends to maintain full operations at the Stirling plant and preserve all relationships with existing Stirling Creamery customers, suppliers and approximately 25 employees in Stirling, as well as sales staff in the Greater Toronto Area.

Building on acquisitions

Gay Lea Foods’ recent acquisitions include Black River Cheese (2016), Hewitt’s Dairy (2014), Salerno Dairy (2014) and Ivanhoe Cheese (2008).

Gay Lea Foods also recently acquired shares in Mariposa Dairy Ltd, which produces goat and sheep cheeses using 100% Ontario goat and sheep milk for the Canadian and US markets.

Michael Barrett, president and CEO of Gay Lea Foods, said that the company is committed to growing the market for Canadian dairy.

“We look forward to new opportunities as we continue to focus on growing a strong, sustainable dairy industry that delivers innovative, market-driven dairy products,”​ Barrett said.

Manitoba butter

The acquisition builds on Dairy Lea’s investment in butter, as a day earlier, Gay Lea Foods and Vitalus Nutrition Inc announced plans to invest in new dairy processing in Manitoba.


The Vitalus and Gay Lea Foods joint venture will process dairy ingredients and butter in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

Increased production

The JV includes plans for upgrades to modernize an existing food manufacturing facility, creating a need for new skilled labor, increased drying capacity in Western Canada, and new butter production to respond to market demands.

The enterprise also provides a new market opportunity for milk from Manitoba dairy farms, as Dairy Farmers of Manitoba will be supplying the raw milk for the new processing facility.


In addition, dairy farmers in the province will have the opportunity to join Gay Lea Foods as member owners.

David Wiens, chair of Dairy Farmers of Manitoba said the new opportunity to increase processing capacity in Manitoba will help ensure the continued sustainability of the Canadian dairy industry today and for future generations.

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