Dairy processing is an essential link in the food industry supply chain. Dairy processors convert raw milk into finished dairy products such as fluid milk, cream, ice cream, yogurt, cheese, butter and dairy-based food & nutrition ingredients, and then market them under popular brand names. In simple terms, the dairy industry supply chain looks something like this
Dairy Processing in Western Canada
Dairy processing companies come in all shapes and sizes, from large, multinational corporations making virtually any type of dairy product you can imagine to small, on-farm operations making just one or two highly specialized products. In the four western Canadian provinces, more than one hundred dairy processors currently operate under federal and/or provincial license. Collectively, they receive and process more than two billion litres of milk per year, of which Western Dairy Council members account for more than 96%.
Dairy processors consist of specialized equipment operators, laboratory technicians, food scientists, tanker and other truck drivers, engineers, programmers, accountants, sales and marketing professionals, policy analysts and a whole lot more. In western Canada, dairy processing provides direct and indirect employment for more than 6000 people -- and many more when you include downstream services and distribution channels.
Western Dairy Council members supply the lion’s share of dairy products sold and consumed in western Canada. But many of their products are sold in other parts of the country and overseas as well. Throughout, their reputation for quality and goodness remains second to none.
The Canadian Dairy System
The Canadian dairy industry operates under a system known as supply management, which is governed by a federal-provincial agreement known as the National Milk Marketing Plan. Within this system, dairy processors navigate a complex network of regulations, policies and relationships to meet their customers’ expectations and ensure that the marketplace is fully supplied with safe, high quality dairy products all year round.
Practically, the system is organized through a series of agreements between federal agencies (e.g., the Ministry of Agriculture & Agri-food and the Canadian Dairy Commission), provincial agencies (e.g., provincial Milk Boards) and various ‘pools’ representing groups of provincial interests. In western Canada, the Western Milk Pool represents the regional interests and common policies of the four western provinces. Similarly, the P5 represents the collective interests of Ontario, Québec and the Atlantic provinces (currently not including Newfoundland). The term ‘P10’ is often used to describe all ten provinces.
Processor organizations provide the processing industry with a common voice and counterpart to federal and provincial agencies and regional pools. See Who We Work With for a list of our partners and stakeholders.