The dairy producers of our smallest province aren’t limiting themselves because of size. ADL dairy products have been feeding the local market on Prince Edward Island for over 60 years. With the Dairy Isle brand, they are proudly crossing the bridge to reach the rest of Canada.
ChefConnexion.com connected with Lee Turner, Corporate Sales Manager for ADL, to get all the details of this exciting co-branding project exclusive to Greenbridge.
Question: Can you explain ADL, ADL Foodservice and Dairy Isle?
Answer: ADL stands for Amalgamated Dairies Ltd., a 60-year-old producer-owned dairy cooperative on Prince Edward Island made up of 160 farm families. ADL is also a milk processor producing table milk, cheese, butter and ice cream. All are available here on the island under the ADL brand.
ADL Foodservice is a 40-year-old business – a separate company from ADL but still part of the cooperative. It was originally founded as a storage and distribution facility for the ADL line of dairy products but it grew into something more. As a founding member of Greenbridge Foodservice, ADL Foodservice has taken more of a national role showcasing the importance of independent foodservice distributors.
Dairy Isle is a 5-year-old brand that’s part of the ADL cooperative. As soon as you cross the bridge to the rest of Canada, ADL is not a well-known brand even with our provincial neighbours. It was difficult to trade on the ADL name as a brand. The Dairy Isle brand was created to use regionally in Atlantic Canada but with the hope for national recognition. The clever name is a reflection of our roots on the island and the products we sell – found in the dairy aisle.
Question: Did Dairy Isle begin with the aim to assist the foodservice market?
Answer: Not at all. In fact, it took a while to realize there was a foodservice opportunity. It was thanks to the leadership at Greenbridge that embraced us. They kept telling us the Dairy Isle brand has a play in foodservice.
We finally agreed; maybe there was a demand right across Canada for a brand of products without funny ingredients and that had a positive story around it.
Our insistence on remaining a wholly owned Canadian company and processing only 100% Canadian milk is aligned with Greenbridge in supporting distributors that are Canadian owned.
Question: How can Dairy Isle compete?
Answer: We offer a high-quality product at a fair price. It starts with great product. From the beginning of every process, we start with 100% whole milk. We make our products free from modified milk ingredients. We triple grade to exacting standards starting on-farm before we will take possession of the milk throughout the process to the final product.
The processing side of the business continually strives for higher and higher quality. But that is what happens when you deal with farmers and their families, people who have a vested interested in what happens with their products.
Canadian dairy is still a very competitive marketplace. We can compete at fair prices against much larger companies. We are confidently ready at foodservice operator doors locally and right across the country.
Question: What’s in the Dairy Isle product lineup?
Answer: Our core is the cheese bar: a 2.4 kg bar sold exact weight with two bars per case, a manageable pack size, and easy to move around one-handed. A bar that big gives you the versatility to dice, slice, cube and shred in-house.
But if you need some help, we offer shredded versions of all of our cheese bars. It’s our cheese bar, shredded – that’s it. Our shreds come in cases of 2 x 2.5 kg bags. Again, an easily manageable quantity.
We are very happy to be in the kitchens of many restaurants with our evaporated and condensed milk products available in cans – a great functional ingredient and quintessential to Donair sauce and many desserts.
Question: How does this new initiative benefit operators across Canada?
Answer: We believe there is value for every operator to make some sort of local statement on their menu.
Question: But how does that make sense to an operator, let’s say, in Edmonton?
Answer: “Canadian” is an adjective just as strong as local right now. We, as a country, have proved that when the chips are down, we continue to produce high quality products from sea to sea. The virus has changed how we view trade. We must support Canadians. Canadian operators, Canadian producers, Canadian farmers, Canadian suppliers, Canadian distributors.
Question: Why should Canadian operators consider Dairy Isle products moving forward?
Answer: Customers, when they are deciding on dinner (or lunch or breakfast) first and foremost are making their choices based on good taste and affordability. But secondly, they may also be deciding to support a non-chain, a locally owned operator and they may also want to know that that operator is also supporting local.
Each one of these operators is competing in their own market. They need to find a strategic advantage that sets them apart from similar businesses within 5-10 km. I really think the quality products of the Dairy Isle brand, Brand Points PLUS and the affiliation with an independent Canadian distributor is that advantage.
About the Author
Cherie Thompson understands foodservice from field to fork. A B.Sc. in Agriculture and experience in quality control, food science, product development, recipe development/editing, customer service, and teaching as well as owning and operating two independent foodservice operations have given her a unique perspective on the food industry.