Saputo to expand cheese production in UK facility after securing government grant

UK – Canadian dairy company Saputo is planning to expand its UK creamery in Davidstow, Cornwall after it secured a £3.2 million (about US$4.46 million) investment from the UK government.

The funds were specifically sourced from Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) which is a fund created by the UK government to develop local enterprises.

Home to the Cathedral City cheddar brand, Saputo’s Davidstow facility employs more than 200 people and sources milk locally.

According to the company, the Davidstow creamery supports  330 dairy farmers across Cornwall and the southwest.

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The LEP’s investment will help increase capacity for cheese production and by-products like demineralised whey, as well as reduce the environmental footprint of the creamery.

Last year, Saputo Dairy UK began selling Cathedral City to the Canadian and US markets for the first time.

“The grant will help us to strengthen the infrastructure at our Davidstow creamery to support the continued growth of our award-winning cheddar brands, both in the UK and abroad,” said Tom Atherton, president and chief operating officer of Saputo Dairy UK.

“The launch of Cathedral City in North America is just the first step in our ambitious international expansion programme.”

The US$4.45 million grant is part of a US$17.21 million grant awarded to the LEP last year by the UK Getting Building Fund following a government call for projects that could create jobs and support post-pandemic economic recovery.

 “The Davidstow creamery is a major local employer whose supply chain extends across Cornwall and the wider region,” LEP director Clare Parnell said.

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“The LEP’s investment, secured from the Getting Building Fund, is having an immediate impact by boosting capacity and improving the efficiency of the plant as the business looks to further growth,” Parnell added.

Formerly called Dairy Crest, Saputo Dairy UK rebranded following its acquisition by Canadian dairy company Saputo in 2019.

Saputo profits surges

Earlier, Saputo Inc. reported an uptick in its third-quarter profit as strong retail sales at grocery stores outweighed weak demand from restaurants, cafeterias, and other foodservice customers.

The Montreal-based dairy processor and cheese manufacturer said its profit climbed 6.1 percent to US$165.91million, up from US$156.42 million in the same quarter a year earlier, even as its revenue edged lower.

“For the first time since the pandemic started, our volumes were on par with last year,” Lino Saputo Jr., Saputo’s board chairman and CEO, told analysts during a conference call.

“Thanks to our strong portfolio of retail brands and by adapting our product offering early on in the pandemic, we captured new opportunities in the retail market segment,” he said.

“We also benefited from increased sales volumes in the industrial markets.”

Saputo said the profit amounted to 51 cents per diluted share for the quarter ended Dec. 31, up from a profit of 48 cents per diluted share a year earlier.

Revenue for the quarter totalled US$$2.97 billion, down from US$3.08 billion.

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