by SUSAN MANN
A provincial award-winning cheese making company has tapped into the Ontario government’s Local Food Fund for funding to upgrade its business so it’s ready to compete with the increased imports of European Union cheeses that will soon be entering Canada.
Vaughan-based Quality Cheese Inc. has received a grant of $1.2 million to help it buy leading edge cheese making equipment, the Ontario government says in a June 3 news release. The funding will help the company improve competitiveness and meet increasing consumer demand for its specialty cheeses and convenience products. The project will enable the company to retain 22 full-time and temporary jobs and create an additional 70 jobs, the release says.
Albert Borgo, who owns Quality Cheese along with his father, Almerigo Sr. and two brothers, Joe and William, says the company is building a new 60,000 square foot plant in Orangeville that will be producing Brie cheese for the domestic and export markets. The new plant is slated to be ready in January or February 2016.
Quality will continue operating the Vaughan-based plant where it makes a variety of chesses, including fresh mozzarella, Brie, Italian specialty and smoked cheese. The products are sold throughout Canada and the United States.
The provincial funding will help the company “to improve our efficiencies and production to get ready for the trade deal,” Albert Borgo says. “The trade deal (between Canada and the European Union reached two years ago) means there’s going to be cheap cheese from Europe” coming into Canada and Canadian firms have to be ready to compete.
The deal calls for European specialty cheese producers to ship up to 30,000 tonnes of cheese into Canada, more than double the current level of 13,000 tonnes.
Along with upgrading its efficiencies and energy recovery, the cheese maker will also be improving the quality of its product because “we have to sell on quality, not on price,” he explains.
On June 3, Ontario Agriculture Minister Jeff Leal announced funding of about $5 million for 14 different new projects, including the Quality Cheese one, as part of the Local Food Fund. The three-year, $30-million fund supports projects designed to make and promote local food and strengthen the local food supply and distribution chain.
Also on the list of businesses that received funding include VG Meats Limited, $948,000, and Longo’s Markets, $446,000.
Ontario’s Local Food report, released the same day, says that so far, Ontario has provided more than $22 million in funding for 162 local food projects. Recipients must contribute money towards their projects and so far they’ve put in more than $102 million.
Christina Crowley-Arklie, Leal’s press secretary and communications adviser, says by email the fund is part of the government’s plan to support jobs, attract investment and help the agri-food industry make an even greater contribution to Ontario’s economy. BF