Agropur Cooperative announced it is closing its fluid milk plant in Winnipeg.

The plant’s operations will be transferred to other Agropur fluid milk facilities in Western Canada.

A total of 48 employees will be affected by the closure, planned for September 24, 2021.

Agropur says it is closing the plant in order to optimize its fluid milk manufacturing operations, adding given current market conditions, the company made a strategic decision to concentrate its fluid milk manufacturing operations for Western Canada at three other facilities, located in Burnaby and Victoria in British Columbia and Edmonton, Alberta.

"Unfortunately, the level of investment required to maintain the plant's competitiveness in the coming years was becoming too high. We are making this strategic decision to optimize our consumer milk network in Western Canada. This will help simplify our business model and ensure our competitiveness," said Émile Cordeau, CEO.

Agropur processes more than 6.6 billion litres of milk per year at its 33 plants across North America.

Dairy Farmers of Manitoba Chair David Wiens commented on the announced closure.

"Where we've had some milk coming in from Saskatchewan and Alberta, obviously once this plant closes there will be less coming into Manitoba because we will redirect that milk to the other plants. Overall, we try to reach a balance in the west and the balance is never 100 per cent," said Wiens. "With this processor closing, we have lost some processing capacity here in the province and certainly a concern would be if there would be further closures, then of course that would mean that we would again have to start moving milk out of the province, but right now it's still okay, we can still do it."