Western Canada’s provincial milk boards plan on building a new $50 million dairy concentration facility in Alberta, aiming to help ease the number of trucks that are required to ship milk through the Prairies.
Dairy Innovation West, which is a first of its kind in Canada, will remove water from raw milk and create concentrated components that processors can use for a variety of products.
“We are very excited about this new partnership and are looking forward to getting shovels in the ground this spring,” said Henry Holtmann, chair of the Western Milk Pool, announcing the project at the Alberta Milk Dairy Conference in Edmonton last week.
“This is good news for dairy farmers, dairy processors, and the economy in Western Canada,” he said.
The facility will be owned by Western Milk Pool members, and it’s expected to accommodate up to 300 million litres of milk per year.
Producers hope to have it completed by March 2021. It will be located in the Lacombe and Red Deer area.
Reducing environmental impacts is one of main priorities of Dairy Innovation West.
The facility will allow the industry to reduce the number of trucks that are required to ship milk to processors outside the province, said Tom Kootstra, chair of Alberta Milk.
With the technology, more milk will be able to go into a truck because it’s concentrated. The industry expects the change will reduce trucking emissions by 50 percent.
“Instead of two trucks on the road, there would only be one,” Kootstra said. “It will be really helpful.”
Kootstra said the reduced truck volume will, over time, offset the costs to build the facility.
— Alberta Milk (@AlbertaMilk) November 20, 2019
He said producers’ costs won’t go up and, once this is built, they will have infrastructure that makes the movement of milk more efficient.
Alberta Milk, however, hopes the new facility will attract further investment, Kootstra said.
Dairy Innovation West will sit on a 20-acre site, he said, meaning there is ample room for additional processors to set up shop when the time is right.
“We’re making it as easy as possible for someone to come in when it’s time to expand,” he said. “The infrastructure would already be there.”
He said it would be nice if Alberta had another processor because it would be closer to producers in the region.
“Having the right balance of processing and production is the ideal,” he said.
Currently, milk moves within the western provinces to ensure the industry is meeting consumer needs and that dairy processing is operating at full capacity.