The federal government is investing more than $600,000 in Summerside’s ADL food company.
P.E.I. is adding a $135,000 tax credit. Both moves are to help ADL upgrade its technology in order to brace for changes coming with the Canada-European Union Free Trade Agreement.
Gail Shea, the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency minister, announced the $607,000 investment Friday. The ACOA funding will expand ADL’s cheese line with new cutting and packaging equipment.
'You can cry and moan about it, but I'm not sure that's going to stop [EU deal] from going through.' - Jim Bradley, CEO of ADL
"ADL is very much a success story on Prince Edward Island. They are always forward thinking and that's why they do so well in the market place,” she said.
Jim Bradley, chief executive officer of ADL, said the firm must become more efficient and develop new product lines to stand up to European competition.
"There are a lot of advances taking place in technology [and] there's a lot of new equipment. There are a lot of big players out there, so you’ve got to keep investing."
The free trade deal will allow more E.U. fine cheese products into Canada, creating more competition for companies such as ADL.
“Right now, a significant amount of production in this facility here is in European-style cheeses and if they come in as a direct competition, we're going to have to look at lowering our costs of production, or find other market opportunities," Bradley said.
"How do we adjust for it? You can cry and moan about it, but I'm not so sure the crying and the moaning is going to stop it from going through. To me, you look at how you’re going to manage it."
Ray Arsenault is a dairy farmer and board chair of ADL.
ADL's annual sales top $130 million. The company employs more than 250 people.
“We’re one of the biggest producers of feta cheese. [If] that comes in all of a sudden, we’re at a disadvantage,” he said.
ADL buys most of the milk Arsenault and other farmers produce. Its cheese products are sold in Canada, the U.S. and Asia.
Shea said the effect of the deal will only become clear with time.
"Farmers are concerned, so it is something we will certainly be watching for. The federal government has said any losses would be compensated,” she said.