N.S. backs upgrades at Lassonde juice plant

A Quebec juice company’s plant in Nova Scotia’s Annapolis Valley has picked up provincial funding to upgrade its packaging equipment and expand its product lines.

Greatvalley Juices, owned by Quebec’s A. Lassonde Inc., will get a $140,000 incentive over five years from the Nova Scotia government’s Industrial Expansion Fund (IEF) for its plant at Port Williams, east of Kentville.

Lassonde recently installed new equipment at the Port Williams plant, “opening new potential markets,” the provincial government said in a release Tuesday.

Greatvalley will now produce more “consumer-friendly” and recyclable one-litre polyethylene terephthalate (PET) plastic bottles, in addition to its traditional 1.05-litre tin cans.

“This is an important strategic addition to further reinforce the position of our Port Williams facility and remain competitive in the Canadian fruit juice industry,” Jay Johnson, director of operations and administration for Greatvalley, said in the province’s release.

“This investment is helping a well-established, rural company to become more competitive and maintain good jobs. That’s good for the community and the many farmers and other suppliers that do business with this company,” provincial Economic and Rural Development Minister Percy Paris said in the same release.

Greatvalley Juices makes and sells juices and fruit drinks under the Graves, Avon and Nature’s Best brand names, mainly to supply grocery wholesalers in the Atlantic region.

According to Lassonde, the Greatvalley operation is one of the largest producers of apple juice in the region.

The province noted a new “modern” fund is in the works to replace the IEF. Investments from the new fund are expected be in line with the priorities of the province’s “jobsHere” plan, aimed at job creation in communities undergoing “economic transitions.”

A schedule to wind down the IEF is to be announced by the end of July and complete by the end of March 2012.

During the transition period to the new fund, all investment proposals will continue to be considered on their merits, the province said.

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