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Gay Lea Foods acquires the Alberta Cheese Company

Mississauga, Ontario – (October 16, 2017) Gay Lea Foods Co-operative Limited (“Gay Lea Foods”) is pleased to announce it has entered into an agreement to acquire the shares of Alberta Cheese Company Ltd. (“Alberta Cheese”), effective October 13, 2017.

The purchase expands upon Gay Lea Foods’ renowned selection of Ontario-produced cheeses under the Salerno, Ivanhoe and Black River brands, and supports the co-operative’s plan to grow its presence in the Canadian dairy industry while providing exceptional service to its retail and foodservice customers.

Located in South East Calgary, Alberta Cheese was founded by master cheesemaker Frank Talarico in 1976 and has remained in the Talarico family for the past 40 years. The business specializes in the manufacturing of traditional Italian cheeses under the popular Franco’s and Sorrento brands, as well as the importation and distribution of cheese and other food products from around the world.

The successful integration of Alberta Cheese into Gay Lea Foods will add the Franco’s and Sorrento brand cheeses to Gay Lea Foods’ much revered selection of high quality and specialty cheeses produced in Ontario. The move will also further increase the production capacity of the co-operative, and expand relationships for Gay Lea Foods with Alberta foodservice providers, retailers and cheese-lovers alike.

Gay Lea Foods intends to maintain full operations at the Alberta Cheese plant and preserve all relationships with existing Alberta Cheese customers, suppliers and employees.


  • Alberta Cheese has 28 employees. Their Franco’s brand includes traditional Bocconcini, Burrata, Cheddar, Feta, Mozzarella, Parmesan, Provolone, Ricotta and Monterey Jack style cheeses, as well as a number of specialty varieties.
  • Headquartered in Mississauga, Ontario, Gay Lea Foods is the largest dairy co-operative in Ontario, with members on more than 1,300 dairy farms, more than 4,000 members in total, and more than 950 employees.
  • Gay Lea Foods is a renowned and growing presence in the Canadian cheese industry, leveraging the expertise and dedication of our cheesemakers to produce quality, award-winning and specialty cheeses under the Salerno, Ivanhoe and Black River brands.
  • Gay Lea Foods has grown steadily in recent years and made a number of acquisitions, including Stirling Creamery (2016), Black River Cheese (2016), Hewitt’s Dairy (2014), Salerno (2014) and Ivanhoe Cheese (2008).
  • In November 2016, Gay Lea Foods announced an investment of $140 million to establish an innovative nutrition and nutraceutical-grade dairy ingredients hub in Canada. Upgrades and expansions are underway at a number of the co-operative’s Ontario-based facilities, as is the construction of a modern Research & Development Centre in Hamilton, Ontario.


“Gay Lea Foods is pleased to welcome Alberta Cheese to our co-operative and honoured to continue the heritage built by the Talarico family over the past 40 years. We look forward to many new relationships and opportunities as Gay Lea Foods expands into Western Canada and continues to build momentum in the Canadian dairy industry.”
– Steve Dolson, Chair, Gay Lea Foods

“Today’s announcement represents an exciting next chapter for Alberta Cheese, as my family’s legacy becomes part of another family – one that shares our principles, and our commitment to quality and service. My family leveraged our heritage, passion and expertise to launch Alberta Cheese, and we are immensely proud to see it become part of a successful and growing co-operative like Gay Lea Foods.”
– Frank Talarico, Founder, Alberta Cheese Company

“Much like Gay Lea Foods, Alberta Cheese is known for providing exceptional products with exceptional service. We are excited to welcome this highly regarded business to our co-operative as we continue to cultivate our cheese business and work to grow a strong, sustainable Canadian dairy industry that delivers innovative, market-driven dairy products.”
– Michael Barrett, President and CEO, Gay Lea Foods


Gay Lea Foods Co-operative Limited is a leader in the Canadian dairy industry and the largest dairy co-operative in Ontario. Dedicated to innovation, the development of high quality products and growing the market for Canadian milk, the 100% Canadian-owned co-operative is the first of its kind to include licensed dairy cow and dairy goat members, and process both kinds of milk into a range of dairy products – from the consumer favourite Spreadables and North America’s first SmoothTM Cottage Cheese, to Nothing But CheeseTM, an innovative snack made with 100% cheese. With members on more than 1,300 dairy farms and more than 4,000 members overall, Gay Lea Foods is as renowned for its co-operative-inspired values as it is for its quality products: from the moment our milk is “born on the farm”, until our products reach the table, our farmers, members and employees collaborate to meet member needs, contribute to the sustainable development of communities, and ensure that Gay Lea Foods is well positioned to lead as an innovative and growing Canadian foods business.

Gay Lea Foods Website
Alberta Cheese Website
Follow Gay Lea Foods (@gayleafoodscoop) on Twitter


Robin Redstone
Communications Manager
Gay Lea Foods Co-operative Limited
(905) 399-0403

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