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Agropur to make Boursin cheeses in Canada

Fromageries Bel, the French cheese company that makes and markets such cheeses as Mini Babybel and The Laughing Cow, will now contract the production of its Boursin cheese line in Canada to dairy co-op Agropur.

Bel and Agropur on Monday announced plans to share a “multi-million-dollar investment” and expand Agropur’s processing plant at St-Hyacinthe to handle the Boursin line of gourmet fromage frais (fresh cheeses).

Quebec-based Agropur already produces Bel’s Laughing Cow and Mini Babybel cheeses for the Canadian market, having partnered with Paris-based Bel on those products for over 20 years.

Boursin, already manufactured in the U.S., has until now been imported to Canada. The two companies’ plans are expected to “optimize the potential” of the brand in this country.

“The division’s manufacturing expertise, and its national marketing and distribution network, together with Bel’s skilled marketing of the Boursin brand is a winning combination,” Robert Gour, president of Agropur’s fine cheese division, said in a release Monday.

“This partnership will help increase Boursin’s availability and sales, and meet market needs more efficiently.”

The Agropur plant will follow the “original manufacturing process (that) preserves the characteristics and freshness of the ingredients, and gives Boursin the irresistible texture and taste that Canadians love so much,” Catherine Thomas, president of Bel Cheese’s Canadian business, said in the same release.

An Agropur spokesperson said Wednesday the expansion work at St-Hyacinthe will involve both new equipment and infrastructure to handle the added production.

The exact cost of the project is confidential and won’t be released, the spokesperson added.

Boursin, developed by French cheesemaker Francois Boursin in 1957, stemmed from a traditional fromage frais dish in which dinner guests use bowls of fine herbs to season their own cheese.

Boursin’s garlic and herb recipe became the first flavoured fromage frais to be sold throughout France. His cheeses, now made in six flavours and marketed on their “creamy, crumbly” texture and consistency, were dubbed “Gournay” when he was first asked to classify them for customs purposes.

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