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B.C. dairy producers scramble to adapt amid coronavirus pandemic

B.C. dairy farmers dumping product due to COVID-19
With demand for their products plummeting during the COVID-19 crisis, B.C. dairy farmers are being forced to dump milk down the drain. Paul Johnson explains.

Thousands of litres of milk are going down the drain as dairy producers grapple with the change in demand for their product.

BC Dairy General Manager Jeremy Dunn told CKNW’s Simi Sara that the industry is trying to adapt as quickly as possible in an interview on Mornings with Simi

“In B.C., about three per cent of our weekly production is being disposed. This is being seen right across Canada and in the United States and other parts of the world including New Zealand.”

According to Dunn, the impact of the novel coronavirus on the restaurant industry has complicated the dairy industry supply chain, and they’re moving quickly to address the new paradigm.

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“You don’t see bakeries making donuts and muffins for their daily customers. Those use a lot of dairy.”

READ MORE: Bedridden for days, young Canadians with COVID-19 say illness is ‘no joke’

While the ways people are consuming dairy are changing, Dunn says the overall demand remains consistent. The challenge now is adjusting the supply chain to adapt to those changes.

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“We’ve got to get the product, with our partners in processing, into different containers to get it to people’s houses.”

READ MORE: Live updates: Coronavirus in Canada

Despite the fact that producers have been forced to dump some of their milk inventory, the industry is trying to find alternatives.

“When we had excess processing capacity late last week, our friends at Saputo reached out to the milk board and we had a number of partners come together and we put 40,000 litres into food banks in B.C. Because we had the processing capacity (and) we didn’t have the demand, we used the processing capacity to get the milk to people who need it.”