Canada’s Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, the Honourable Marie-Claude Bibeau, has announced an investment through the AgriInnovate program of up to C$5m (US$3.9m) for the purchase of technology including molding lines, waxing and a quality-control system, and for energy efficiency.
Mini Babybel cheese sold in Canada was previously made in the European Union or the US, using non-Canadian dairy. Following completion of the plant, it will now be made in Québec using 100% locally-sourced milk.
The plant is expected to increase demand for Canadian dairy by 39m liters annually and create more than 140 full-time jobs in the Sorel-Tracy area.
"We are very proud to welcome the financial support of the Department of Agriculture and Agri-Food,” Cristine Laforest, general manager of Fromageries Bel Canada, said.
“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 Québec economy."
The AgriInnovate funding of up to C$5m is additional to a federal contribution of C$2.7m (US$2.1m) in 2018, through Canada Economic Development for Quebec Regions.
The AgriInnovate program is part of the Canadian Agricultural Partnership, a five-year (2018-2023), C$3bn (US$2.4bn) investment by federal, provincial and territorial governments to strengthen agriculture and the agri-food sector.
In 2019, there were almost 500 dairy processors in Canada, including approximately 190 in Québec. Québec dairy processors accounted for 30% of total dairy manufacturing sales, reaching nearly C$4.47bn (US$3.5bn) annually, and more than 10,000 direct jobs.
Fromageries Bel Canada created its subsidiary in 2005. This sparked the development of the group's operations across Canada and implemented a local production strategy.