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Ont. backs Bobcaygeon ice cream maker’s expansion

Dairy farmers in central Ontario are expected to see increased demand for milk as a regional ice cream company retools its plant with some help from the province.

The Ontario government on Friday pledged up to $620,000 for Kawartha Dairy Ltd. to expand its plant at Bobcaygeon, about 50 km north of Peterborough.

The province said its funding will go toward installations of “new technologies” to improve production, as well as improved material handling capacity, food safety and quality control operations.

The funding will also go to train employees to operate and maintain the new systems, the province said.

The facility’s renovations are expected to help the company expand its range of ice cream products, general manager Blake Frazer said in the province’s release.

The expanded capacity “will increase production and employment and meet consumer demand for ice cream made with 100 per cent Canadian dairy ingredients, and meet demand for local food production,” he said.

The expansion is expected to help Kawartha Dairy create up to 10 new jobs and keep 86 current positions at the plant.

The company, founded in 1937 by dairy farmers Jack and Ila Crowe, began producing ice cream in the mid-1950s. The Crowe family still owns the company today.

Kawartha Dairy now operates a production plant and retail store at Bobcaygeon, along with depots and retail stores at Minden and Bancroft, retail stores at Peterborough, Huntsville and Uxbridge. It also operates a retail store at Lindsay under the name Dairy Barn.

The dairy also supplies retail outlets, foodservice companies and other ice cream parlours, and handles custom production work for other food companies, making ice cream, juices and various dairy products.

The company noted its milk for all these operations is picked up fresh daily from local farms.

The province’s funding for Kawartha Dairy’s project will flow through its Rural Economic Development Program.

The provincial government recently backed another area dairy company, Lindsay-based Mariposa Dairy, with $172,600 for expansion of its soft goat cheese business. That support came from the province’s Eastern Ontario Development Fund.

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