Scotian Gold Co-operative Ltd. has had a long connection with the apple industry in the Annapolis Valley. Now, thanks in part to an infusion of federal government funding, it is positioned to continue to play a leadership role in the industry.
Kings-Hants MP and president of the Treasury Board, Scott Brison, visited Scotian Gold Oct. 27 to make official a $1.75-million federal government investment in new state-of-the-art apple packing technology at the co-operative's Coldbrook location.
“The government of Canada is committed to making investments in innovation to keep pace with global competition,” Brison said in making the announcement on behalf of federal Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food Lawrence MacAulay.
“Investments such as this one will help Scotian Gold bring fresh, high-quality apples to consumers, while expanding markets and strengthening the economy.”
The Scotian Gold brand, he pointed out, “is known throughout Canada and around the world as a premium product.
“You are leading the way in meeting consumers' growing demands for new high-value varieties, and thanks to your co-operative structure, you are ensuring your farmer-members can share in this growth.”
The federal government, Brison said, “understands the importance of a prosperous apple industry in this country. We're investing in science to keep our growers competitive.”
Currently, at the Agriculture Canada research centre in Kentville, “scientists are conducting research to optimize the yields and quantity of premium apple varieties.”
A producer-owned tree fruit co-operative, Scotian Gold, established in 1957 from the remnants of the former United Fruit Companies of Nova Scotia, is the largest apple packing and storage operation in Eastern Canada.
The federal government investment allowed Scotian Gold to expand its Coldbrook plant with the addition of two new to Atlantic Canada high-efficiency production lines, which, according to Scotian Gold President and CEO David Parrish, “will nearly double our capacity.”
Parrish confirmed the new lines, contained in a 28,000 square-foot state-of-the-art addition to the existing plant, began production in the spring of 2017.
In addition to the $1.75 million announced, the project, with an overall budget of some $5.5 million, also included “a $500,000 loan from the Atlantic Canada Opportunity Agency (ACOA).”
The balance of the cost was funded by Scotian Gold through its member-growers.
Parrish termed the addition to the plant, and the new technology, “an example of Scotian Gold's willingness to invest in the future of our growers, our employees and the apple industry.
“This is an exciting time for Scotian Gold,” he said. “This expansion has allowed us to replace the 1990s technology of our old lines with the latest technology offered today.
“As volumes continue to grow, this expansion will be instrumental in us getting our apples to market in a timely and efficient manner.”
Parrish confirmed Scotian Gold “receives apples from over 40 growers. Over the past number of years, we have seen our growers expand into new varieties such as Honeycrisp and Sweetango. They have seen success in producing a product that can compete on the world stage.”
With the facility expansion and new technology, Scotian Gold expects to grow its sales and demand of premium, Nova Scotia-grown apples, both here in Canada and in the United States.