The Bel Group, Paris, said it will build its first Canadian plant in Sorel-Tracy, Quebec. The facility, scheduled to begin commercial production in early 2020, will be fully dedicated to producing Mini Babybel cheese.
The project will require an investment of $87 million and create 170 skilled jobs spread between the Sorel-Tracy plant and Bel Canada's Montreal head office, the company said. It will also contribute to growing demand for Canadian milk.
"Bel has been marketing its products in Canada since 1957, and we know the local dairy sector's expertise. With this new plant, we are becoming a full-fledged Quebec dairy processor," said Catherine Thomas, president of Bel Canada.
The project continues the strategy that Bel Canada has implemented over more than 10 years. This strategy consists of prioritizing local manufacturing to bolster the company's growth in the Canadian market, the company said.
"This cheese is currently imported and will soon be produced with 100% Canadian milk,” added Bruno Letendre, chair of Les Producteurs de lait du Québec. “This is good news for local dairy producers. This investment will generate employment and much-needed economic benefits in our regions."
Bel Canada's plant will be built on the site adjacent to Laiterie Chalifoux — a company established in Sorel-Tracy in 1920 with which industrial synergies are expected.