A high-tech dairy facility, said to be the first of its kind in Canada, is proposed for the Red Deer-Lacombe area.
The facility, which will have the capacity to handle up to 300-million litres of milk per year, will remove water from raw milk to create the concentrated components required by dairy processors for a variety of products, such as cheese.
The project is being pursued by the Western Milk Pool, which represents producers in Canada’s four western provinces. Together, they control 25 per cent of the milk produced in Canada.
Central Alberta was chosen as the site of the facility because of its high concentration of dairy farms.
Tom Kootstra, the chairman of Alberta Milk, which is among the plant’s partners, said the central Alberta facility will reduce the transport of milk. Currently, much of the milk produced in Alberta is trucked to processing plants in Abbotsford, B.C., and as far away as Winnipeg.
“There’s an environmental impact of moving less milk, and the benefit to that is there’s cost savings. And having said that, this facility doesn’t come for nothing, so what we save on transportation, we invest in this infrastructure,” said Kootstra.
The working group is studying three sites, and construction is expected to begin in April 2020 and be completed by March 2021. A 20-acre site is being sought to accommodate future expansion.
The plant will cost more than $50 million and create about 25 full-time positions.
“We are very excited about this new partnership and are looking forward to getting shovels in the ground this spring,” said Henry Holtmann, chairman of the Western Milk Pool.
“This is good news for dairy farmers, dairy processors, and the economy in Western Canada.”
The site will be owned by Western Milk Pool members and will be operated by Vitalus Nutrition Inc., which is based in Abbotsford.