The maker of Becel margarine, Imperial spreads and, most recently, vegan near-cheese Violife plans to boost its Canadian manufacturing capacity with a move from Toronto to Brantford, Ont.
The Canadian arm of Amsterdam-based Upfield said Wednesday it has bought a 164,000-square foot industrial building at Brantford and “brings a significant investment involving the purchase of land, infrastructure improvements and equipment.”
Upfield, which formed in 2018 when consumer goods giant Unilever spun off its worldwide spreads business, now bills itself as the largest plant-based consumer products company in the world.
The Violife plant-based cheese substitute brand came to Upfield in January, when it closed a deal to take over Greek plant-based and dairy-free processor Arivia.
Upfield said Wednesday it will expand its operations onto the 17.4-acre Brantford property — while ending operations at its current Toronto processing site, at Etobicoke.
The company, which has 86 employees at Etobicoke, said it “looks forward to welcoming members of its existing workforce to Brantford,” where it also expects to generate “additional employment opportunities” between next year and 2023.
The new plant, which Upfield expects to have “fully operational” by the end of 2021, will include improvements to support the company’s expanding spreads and margarine product portfolio.
Upfield said it also plans to set up a “scaled-up manufacturing platform” that will support “new innovations” such as Violife as well as the Becel line and other spreads.
Upfield Canada president Dan Bajor, in a release Wednesday, said the Brantford expansion is part of a plan to build up its space in the plant-based foods business in Canada — and that includes introducing the Violife line in this country.
The Brantford plant, he added, will supply the Canadian consumer market but also will “support the export of Violife to the United States and eventually to markets in Latin America.”
Upfield’s Becel product lines in Canada are made with canola and sunflower oil as well as palm oil and soy extracts. Its non-vegan line includes small amounts of buttermilk, while its plant-based butter substitutes include pea protein.
Its Violife line, meanwhile, is coconut oil-based. It includes cheddar, mozzarella, parmesan and feta-flavoured products for use as non-dairy substitutes in pizza, sandwiches and other food items. — Glacier FarmMedia Network