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Danone to upgrade Que. plant for Greek yogurt line

Three years after a major overhaul of its Quebec yogurt plant, dairy processor Danone Canada plans an eight-figure investment in new equipment for the company’s Greek yogurt line.

The company, already Canada’s biggest yogurt maker, announced Friday it will put up $40 million for “leading-edge precision equipment” at its Boucherville, Que. yogurt processing plant.

Danone’s Greek yogurt brand, Oikos, has become “increasingly popular” with Quebec consumers, the company said. The new equipment is expected to provide “great versatility” in making and packaging the product.

Processing Oikos yogurt involves a separation technique that produces a yogurt with a thicker texture and requires the use of about three times more milk than regular yogurt, Danone said.

Nick Krzyzaniak, CEO for Danone in Canada, said the equipment upgrades will lead directly to 10 new jobs at Boucherville, among 25 jobs generated through production of Oikos at Boucherville. Oikos production at the plant also supports 250 “indirect” jobs, he said.

“This investment not only confirms Danone’s role as a major agent of economic development in Quebec, but reasserts its leadership as the country’s largest yogurt producer,” he said.

The $40 million outlay includes backing from provincial economic development agency Investissement Quebec, through a $5 million interest-free loan.

Quebec Premier Pauline Marois, who attended Friday’s announcement, said such investments square “perfectly” with the province’s food sovereignty policy announced last spring.

Danone took the Boucherville plant through a $50 million expansion in 2010, for production of the company’s DanActive probiotic drinks. IQ put up a $2 million grant for that project.

Yogurt products have been made at Boucherville since 1968 by the Quebec company Delisle, which became part of the Danone Group in 1993 and was dubbed Danone Canada in 1997. The 223,000-square-foot plant now ships over 4.7 million tubs of yogurt per day across Canada. — Network

Related story:
Danone shifts DanActive production to Quebec, Sept. 28, 2010

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