Que. dairy processor to expand plant, shut another

Citing local regulations, dairy processor Liberte plans to shut a Montreal-area plant and invest $12 million in an expansion of its plant at nearby St-Hyacinthe.

The company said last week it plans to close its plant at Brossard, putting 85 staff out of work, but will hire 55 more employees at its St-Hyacinthe facility, now undergoing expansion and automation.

Liberte plans to bring its operations up to new HACCP and Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) standards, but the needed modifications were “made impossible” at Brossard due to “municipal regulations.”

“The international standards to which Liberte wishes to subscribe are more and more strict, and we must adapt,” general manager Martin Valiquette said in a release, and meeting new standards “isn’t possible anymore in this outdated plant” at Brossard, which opened in 1964.

Once the expansion work is complete, the St-Hyacinthe plant, which Liberte opened in 2008, “is going to be able to take care of all production from Brossard while allowing a significant increase in production,” he said.

Specifically, the company said, the expansion will allow the company to meet growing demand from the U.S. market and to meet the “phenomenal expansion” of the company’s Liberte Grec (Greek) product line.

Liberte’s product lines include various styles and flavours of yogurt as well as organic milk, cheese, cottage cheese, goat milk, sour cream, butter, tofu, tzatziki, and kefir drinks.

The company started in Montreal in 1936, making cream cheeses and cottage cheeses. It added yogurt to its product line when it moved its operations to Brossard in 1964. Its operations across Canada now employ about 560 people.

The company plans to invest over $1 million to help its laid-off Brossard staff, Valiquette said, noting many will be able to continue work at St-Hyacinthe.

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