Dairy Companies are a necessity; they provide nutrition to the people and steady, well-organized businesses for farmers. The biggest dairy companies in Canada have interesting stories of collaboration with farmers, and cooperation with the government to improve the lives and businesses of all parties involved. Some of these dairy companies have over 100 years of history behind them, and with innovation as their watchword, they have great things planned ahead.
When the likes of Lino Saputo and William Neilson started their diary businesses several decades ago, they may not have known that they were establishing empires that would outlast them, and carry on their family names.
It is no wonder that many of the big brands and dairy products from Canada have become world-famous; making massive sales in other countries. Furthermore, the dairy industry in Canada is growing every day; size, numbers, production, and sales all continue to point upwards. Let us highlight them one by one.
Top 10 Dairy Companies In Canada
1. The Agropur Dairy Cooperative
The Agropur Dairy Cooperative is a dairy business headquartered in Longueuil, Quebec, Canada. The company was established in 1938, as a coming together of dairy farmers to process, package and distribute their own milk. Now that cooperative comprises roughly 3,290 dairy farmers.
Agropur Dairy Cooperative now operates 3 plants and has 8,300 employees. It processes more than 6 billion litres of milk annually. Some brands produced by Agropur are Natrel, Québon, Oka cheese, Dairytown, Farmers, Agropur Signature, and so many others.
2. Saputo Inc.
Saputo Incorporated was founded in 1954 by Lino Saputo with only 500 dollars and a bicycle. Today that company is worth billions and its products are sold in over 40 countries worldwide. Saputo produces, markets, and distributes many kinds of dairy products.
Saputo’s main product is still cheese, but it also sells fluid milk, extended shelf-life milk and cream products, and ingredients for making milk-based products. It is one of the top ten dairy makers, not only in Canada, but in the world. The company has been very busy consolidating its business through a series of mergers and acquisitions.
3. Lactalis Canada Inc.
Lactalis Canada Incorporated was formerly known as Parmalat Canada Incorporated. This is a top dairy maker, with its brands known throughout the world. The company has its administrative offices in Toronto, Montreal, and Calgary, and operates 17 processing plants. The company spends heavily of research, and innovation is a big part of the company policy. Some of the products sold by Lactalis Canada include Astro yogourt, Lactantia butter, Cracker Barrel cheese, Black Diamond cheese, Lactaid, and so many others.
4. Ultima Foods Inc.
Ultima Foods Incorporated is a Canadian maker of dairy products such as yogurt and fresh milk. Ultima Foods was established in 1993, but it traces its business as far back as 1971. Ultima Foods is owned by Agropur, which is based in Quebec. It is the company behind the iögo brand of yogurt and fresh dairy products, which it has run in Canada since August 2012. The company also owns and operates the Olympic brand of dairy products which is sold in many countries.
Becker’s is an independent company. They are not involved in the production, but they handle the marketing and distribution arm of the business for Dairy products maker Alimentation Couche-Tard. Becker’s is a chain of independent convenience stores; they are the biggest dairy franchise in Canada.
The original Becker Milk Company was established in 1957 in Toronto, Ontario. From 5 to 500 stores, the chain quickly grew to huge proportions, and was sold in 2006 to Alimentation Couche-Tard. With that sale, most of the company’s old stores were converted to other uses, but surprisingly, the franchise partners continued and even grew stronger. There are now over 40 stores in Ontario
6. Cows Creamery
Cows Creamery is popularly known as Cows. It is a Canadian ice cream manufacturer and owns/operates a chain of ice cream parlours in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, Canada. This company was established in 1983, and has become a major dairy brand in Canada. They operate cheddar cheese, and other cow-themed merchandise.
Cows have received some recognition in its time; the company was named “Canada’s best ice cream” by readers of Reader’s Digest and also named the world’s top place to get ice cream by Tauck World Discovery. The company presently owns 12 locations, and is on the verge of expanding its business.
7. Bothwell Cheese
Bothwell Cheese, as the name implies is a cheese-making company. It is Canada’s largest independently owned cheesemaker. The company is located in New Bothwell, Manitoba, Canada, and was founded in 1936 as a co-operative by local farmers. Most of the company’s brands are under the same name; there are over 25 varieties of cheddar, mozzarella, smoked, traditional, and specialty cheeses made by this company which also sells cheese curds, shredded cheese, and variety packages. This company ships more than two million kilograms of cheese to grocery retailers throughout Canada each year.
8. Gay Lea Foods Co-operative Limited
Gay Lea Foods Co-operative Limited is a co-operative producing dairy products such as butter, sour cream, cottage cheese, whipped cream, and lactose-free milk. In Canada, their business goes to retail, foodservice, industrial, and export markets. Gay Lea also produces and distributes a new kind of product called “Spreadables”, which is a kind of butter made as a canola oil and butter blend, that tastes like butter but is spreadable onto bread directly out of the fridge. The company is owned by a collection of Ontario milk producers.
9. Organic Meadow Cooperative
Organic Meadow Cooperative is an agricultural cooperative of Dairy Farmers in Ontario, Canada. The cooperative was established in 1989 after local farmers decided that commercialized farming practices were not sustainable for them. They all agreed to go back to organic farming as practiced by their grandfathers, without any use of chemicals. That agreement has produced what is now one of Canada’s most successful farmer’s co-operatives. There are now more than 65 different certified organic products carrying the Organic Meadow name, including milk, eggs, and frozen vegetables.
10. William Neilson Dairy Limited
William Neilson Dairy Limited is a Canadian dairy company that is now owned and controlled by Saputo Inc. The company is based in Toronto, Ontario, and was founded in 1893 as one of many independent dairy producers in Canada. The company was a milk retailer and then switched to cream and ice cream products. Its products are sold at Walmart, Loblaws, Real Canadian Superstore, Giant Tiger, and other retailers in Canada and America.
11. Teeswater Creamery
Teeswater Creamery is a dairy business in the town of Teeswater, Ontario, Canada. The company is now owned by Gay Lea Foods Co-operative, but it is the oldest creamery in Ontario. As of 2016, the company employs about 100 people, but expansion is coming it’s way. In 2011, Gay Lea received about $1 million in government funding to upgrade its facilities.
The dairy industry in Canada is well regulated; there are stringent quality requirements to meet, and mechanisms in place to ensure compliance. However, the role of government has not only been to the task; and that is why the dairy companies in Canada are a testament of what can happen when people put heads together. The dairy industry has become an example to other countries, a beacon of excellence.