State-of-the-art milk concentration plant taking shape in Lacombe County

Innovative $75 million facility scheduled to open spring of 2025

Stakeholders, local dignitaries, and guests landed an up-close look at a $75 million milk processing facility taking shape in Lacombe County.

The event, hosted by Dairy Innovation West (DIW), took place May 28 at the site in Aspelund Industrial Park just west of Blackfalds.

Scheduled to open in the spring of 2025, the facility represents a key investment in advancing dairy processing and sustainability in western Canada, said Henry Holtman, board chair of Dairy Innovation West.

"I'm thrilled to share that we are on track for substantial completion by November of this year. It seems incredible," he said.

"It will be operational with testing starting shortly after. It's more than a facility - it's a symbol of our industry's vision for the future."

He said the plant will also reduce the industry's environmental footprint by the concentration of liquid raw milk.

For every three or four trucks of raw milk coming in, one truck of concentrate will leave for a processing plant where it will be transformed into cheese, butter, yogurt, high-quality milk proteins, and a range of other dairy products, he explained.

“This facility will significantly cut emissions and reduce raw milk transportation costs by $15 million," he said.

"This doesn't only benefit the industry financially, but also it significantly reduces our environmental footprint."

Overall, he said the project's success is a testament to the collaborative efforts of more than 1,300 farmers and the financial partnership of Farm Credit Canada.

"It symbolizes our industry's vision for a sustainable future."

Construction was launched this past December and is managed by Pacific Process Canada Ltd.

"I'd say by May of next year, we will be receiving milk and concentrating it by then," he said.

"Central Alberta was chosen as the site for this ground-breaking facility because of the abundance of dairy farms, and the lack of local processing capacity," he added.

"It's important because the market is growing and we have to serve those markets. The message that I would also like to get across is that the work of collaboration is alive and well. It takes time, but it does reap benefits as you can see.

"I think this is the real success story - having that collaboration turn into something so big."

Barb Shepherd, Lacombe County reeve, said Dairy Innovation West's project is reflective of what can be accomplished (through) community, innovation, and a shared vision.

"I'm absolutely thrilled that it landed here. There are other municipalities where it could have gone. We had conversations over the past four years, and when they ended up here, we shouted for joy - we have so many dairy producers in Central Alberta - in Lacombe County, Ponoka County, and Red Deer County, among others.

"There are daily farms within 0 kilometres of this place," she added.

"So to have this facility located here is amazing. The economic benefits are broad in their scope, and they benefit many parties.

"Each partner's expertise, resources, and dedication have all been pivotal in bringing this dream to fruition, and we are proud to host it here in Lacombe County."

RJ Sigurdson, provincial minister of agriculture and irrigation, said it was exciting to see the progress being made on the "one of a kind" facility.

"When we look at agriculture, and the growth that is happening in the province right now, we look at every sector individually. Of course, one of the things that we have heard from our processors across Alberta is about the need for processing," he said.

"With this investment, it's so welcome, and our producers are very excited about it. It continues to support that industry specifically, and agriculture as a whole," he added.

"The dairy industry is an important segment of our strong agriculture sector here in Alberta. In 2023, Alberta farmers produced just shy of 840 million litres of milk, which is almost 10 percent of Canada's total," he said.

"I know that this facility will help to take the dairy industry to the next level," he said.

"This concentrated milk will also be perfect for value-added agri-product foods...and countless other dairy products in stores, restaurants, and in our homes. So we know that this is going to spur a lot more interest in agri-processing here in the province as well.

"On top of that, the construction and the operation of Dairy Innovation West will add 200 permanent and temporary jobs in the area," he said. "We are also seeing a very exciting amount of investment in processing happening in Alberta, and it's something we want to continue to foster."



Mark Weber

About the Author: Mark Weber

I've been a part of the mediagoom family for about a dozen years now, with stints at the Red Deer Express, the Stettler Independent, and now the Lacombe Express.
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