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Is a Thornloe Cheese sale near?

Gay Lea says "productive discussions" are taking place about selling the cheese factory to a new owner
Thornloe Cheese storefront
Thornloe Cheese in northeastern Ontario closed last year, but there's been suggestion that a sale of the cheese factory could be near.

There is a glimmer of hope that Thornloe Cheese will be sold and revived, as a sale may be announced shortly.

The popular cheese producer, located north of Temiskaming Shores, was shut down last year over food safety concerns caused by aging equipment.

But Mike Langdon, vice-president at Gay Lea, the factory's parent company, suggested some good news may be coming.

"We are having productive discussions about the sale of Thornloe Cheese and hope we will be able to share more before too long," Langdon told BayToday.

"Unfortunately, out of respect for the sale process, we are unable to comment further at this stage."

In October last year, the community was shocked when the manufacturing plant and storefront suddenly closed without warning. Patrons learned of the closure from a sign posted on the storefront door.

Gay Lea said the plant's equipment is so old it would cost $10 million to upgrade, which doesn't make financial sense for the company. Thirty-five employees lost their jobs.

"You know, we've really looked at this from every angle with the goal to avoid this outcome, but the investment to bring the facility up to acceptable standards is very significant," Langdon said at the time of the closure.

"It's likely to cost about $10 million, and potentially considerably more. And, unfortunately, the financial performance of it just doesn't justify that type of investment."

Gay Lea is just the latest in a long line of owners of the cheese factory, which has been in operation since 1940.

Located on Highway 11, 17 kilometres north of New Liskeard, the plant has become an institution in northeastern Ontario, popular amongst residents and tourists alike.

The company, which produced cheese, cheese curds, and butter, has won several accolades for its products over the years, including the Company of the Year Award (16-50 employees) from Northern Ontario Business in 2022.

— BayToday