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Lactalis reopens Sudbury dairy facility for plant-based beverages

Former dairy production facility gets new life thanks to the popularity of plant-based beverages
Lactalis representatives Alexe Gagnon, left, and Taylor Merrall were showing off their foodie skills by making oat and almond beverage smoothies at the reopening of the Sudbury plant on Thursday.

Lactalis, one of Canada's leading dairy brands, held the official reopening on June 28 of its Sudbury plant on Palm Dairy Road, which is now the new Canadian production centre for the company's plant-based beverage brand, called Enjoy! 

The Sudbury facility, which was previously a distribution and production centre for Lactalis fluid milk products (formerly Parmalat), shut down in September of 2022 to allow for the conversion of the facility for the production and distribution of Lactalis premium plant-based products.

The company was the recipient of a $1.4-million grant from the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corp. last November as the province of Ontario provided funding to boost agriculture initiatives across the North. 

At the time of the shutdown of the Sudbury milk plant two years ago, the company said it was responding to a drop in the demand for fluid milk and an uptick in the demand for plant-based beverages.

Lactalis said it would continue to operate its refrigerated warehouse in Sudbury as a distribution centre would retain most of the workforce.

Sudbury community leaders joined with Lactalis corporate members in the planting of a commemorative maple tree at the reopening of the new plant in Sudbury on Thursday. From left to right, Sudbury MPP Jamie West, Lactalis Canada general manager Nathalie Cusson, Sudbury MP Viviane Lapointe, Lactalis Sudbury general manager Robert Towns, Lactalis vice-president Angelo Girotto, Ward 11 Coun. Bill Leduc, Lactalis senior vice-president Gilles Froment, and Lactalis CEO Mark Taylor. Len Gillis/

Company president Mark Taylor said there were 25 jobs in place in 2022 and the jobs were protected, meaning there are still 25 jobs at the Sudbury plant today.

Taylor said the Sudbury plant has served the community well, going back to the early 1960s when it was a fully operating fluid milk processing plant.

"Today, we're proud to continue our legacy here in Sudbury by transforming it into Lactalis. This is Canada's first dedicated plant-based manufacturing facility and home to our Enjoy! brand."

He said the Sudbury facility is a state-of-the-art plant and an example of how a leading company such as Lactalis is able direct its resources to meet the demands of the marketplace. 

"While dairy remains our core business, our expansion into plant-based demonstrates our commitment to being an innovation leader and our commitment to responding to the needs of the market and to what Canadian consumers are telling us," said Taylor.

"And it is important that we are prepared to follow consumers and go wherever that takes us," he added. 

Lactalis Canada president and CEO Mark Taylor who spoke at the reopening of the Sudbury beverage plant on Thursday. Len Gillis/

The new Enjoy! plant-based beverages include the following choices: Unsweetened Oat, Unsweetened Oat Vanilla, Unsweetened Almond, Unsweetened Almond Vanilla, Unsweetened Hazelnut and Unsweetened Hazelnut & Oat.

Nathalie Cusson, general manager of Lactalis Canada’s Fluid Division, said the market for plant-based beverages is growing. She urged the Sudbury audience to "please taste it" and said she is convinced more and more milk drinkers will be pleased to try the new product, especially for things like fruit smoothies and specialty coffee drinks.

“As nutritious, high-protein, unsweetened beverages, Enjoy! responds to a growing consumer demand for plant-based options that taste great and have positive health impacts including non-GMO and gluten free certification with no artificial colours, preservatives or flavours,” said Cusson. 

Sudbury MP Viviane Lapointe said she was pleased to take part in the reopening of the facility which she said has so many obvious benefits such as saving and creating local jobs and stimulating the local economy.

Lapointe said she was pleased that Lactalis upper management selected Sudbury for its first-ever plant-based facility in Canada.

"And that tells me that they have confidence in Sudbury and in this plant. And that is thanks to you, thanks to your hard work and to your commitment. And so as much as this is a Sudbury win, this is your win.

Sudbury MPP Jamie West also took part in the event. He joked that he was so impressed with a video naming all the Lactalis brands — such as Cracker Barrel, Black Diamond, P’tit Québec, Balderson and Cheestrings — that he wanted to run out and make some nachos.

"This is an amazing achievement. I was talking to Mark Taylor earlier about what this means for Sudbury, moving from potentially closing down the plant to innovating, reinvigorating this plant so that employees and retirees have that legacy that goes on. We are some of the best employees in the world," West said.

Greater Sudbury Ward 11 Coun. Bill Leduc brought best wishes and congratulations on behalf of the municipality, the mayor and council.

Leduc said Lactalis was a company that started with humble beginnings to become a global leader in the food industry. 

The city councillor praised the company for responding to the evolving needs of consumers, especially in the demand for plant-based options. He said Sudbury was proud to continue the relationship with the company that he said has become a vital contributor to the community. 

As part of the reopening celebration there was a commemorative tree planting ceremony. Lactalis also made a $10,000 donation to the Sudbury Food Bank.

Len Gillis covers health care and mining for