Quebec’s oldest cheesemaker backed for upgrades

The oldest cheese company in Quebec has picked up $1.4 million from a federal loan and provincial loan guarantee for modernization work at its plant.

Fromagerie Perron, based in the Saguenay-Lac-St-Jean region at St-Prime, about 110 km west of Chicoutimi, will get a $752,400 "repayable contribution" from the business and regional growth program of Canada Economic Development, a federal funding agency in Quebec.

Investissement Quebec, a provincial financing agency focused on economic development, has pledged a loan guarantee for $637,500, while the provincial agriculture ministry will provide a $76,250 grant.

The company’s modernization project involves, among other things, acquiring specialized, high-performance equipment and reconfiguring its production lines, the federal government said in a release Monday.

Fromagerie Perron, founded in 1890 by Adelard Perron, is well known within and outside the province for its cheese curds and specialty cheeses, the province said Monday. The company now buys about 18 million litres of milk per year for production of over two million kilograms of cheese.

The province said its loan guarantee and ag ministry contribution are to go toward renovations at the St-Prime plant to bring it into compliance with Canadian Food Inspection Agency requirements. The financing may also go toward new equipment to boost the plant’s capacity, the province said.

The plant’s general manager, Denis Brassard, said in the province’s release that the company is working to create a more modern and efficient factory. The company’s plans also include the hiring of a specialized engineer, he said.

Perron is "sparing no efforts in facing the globalization of markets as well as the growing demands of its customers" in Quebec and in Canada, provincial Ag Minister Pierre Corbeil said in the province’s release.

The upgrades are already underway and "progressing well," federal Transport Minister Denis Lebel added.

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