Construction of a new $85-million Fairlife manufacturing facility is nearly complete in Peterborough, Ont., but the finishing touches are now on hold because of travel restrictions due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
“Due to current travel restrictions in Canada and around the world, however, we are currently unable to assemble the needed teams to complete the remaining equipment calibration and testing required at the facility. As a result, we now expect the opening of the facility to be delayed until later this year,” Coca-Cola Ltd., which owns Fairlife, said in a statement posted to its website.
READ MORE: Fairlife dairy facility in Peterborough on schedule to open in spring 2020 — Coca-Cola Canada
The facility was supposed to open this spring, and until now, construction had been on schedule.
The plant will produce Fairlife ultra-filtered milk, a lactose-free milk that Coca-Cola says contains 50 per cent more protein and 50 per cent less sugar than traditional milk.
Canada is the first international market for U.S.-based Fairlife’s products. Minute Maid’s Peterborough facility produces all the company’s frozen juice products for North America.
“We want to assure you we remain steadfast in our support of the Canadian dairy industry, and we remain committed to producing Fairlife with Canadian milk in 2020,” the company stated.
READ MORE: Canadian dairy farmers dumping their milk as demand changes amid coronavirus pandemic
Meanwhile, the ongoing coronavirus pandemic is now taking its toll on the Canadian dairy industry, with many producers needing to dump some of their supply.
“These unprecedented times have called for unprecedented measures within the dairy supply chain, largely driven by a reduction in demand from food service providers and the hospitality industry,” Dairy Farmers of Ontario (DFO) CEO Cheryl Smith said in an emailed statement to Global News Peterborough.
“Disposing of milk is an extraordinary measure and one that Dairy Farmers of Ontario has only ever considered in emergency situations. Yet, last week, we informed producers these measures would be necessary on a select and rotating basis.”
Smith says this was an emergency measure only and that affected farmers were individually contacted on April 1 and 2.
“DFO is constantly examining supply and demand needs and will re-evaluate our on-farm measures on a weekly basis,” added Smith. “The steps we take now are vitally important to the continued strength of our food supply chain and we are proceeding with that important goal in mind.”
DFO is the marketing organization for the largest sector of Ontario’s agriculture industry.
It represents more than 4,000 dairy farmers, who produce more than $1.8 billion worth of milk annually.