122 years and still churning at Scotsburn

Posted on April 01, 2022 | By Alexander Chafe | 0 Comments

For over 120 years, households across Atlantic Canada have been choosing Scotsburn milk and other dairy products. With humble beginnings in its namesake Nova Scotian town, quality Scotsburn milk, butter and more are still sold today.

 

Photo of Scotsburn creamery from 1920 article in The Farmer’s Advocate  (photo credit: Farmers.com)

 

Scotsburn in Scotsburn

Scotsburn Creamery was established in 1900 in Scotsburn, Nova Scotia by a group of farmers wanting to turn milk into butter for the community. At the recommendation of Dairy Commissioner Dr. J. W. Robertson, the government supported the creamery and provided financial assistance. When the company was formed, 80 local farmers purchased shares at five dollars each.

In the early days, the business worked hard to keep things churning. However, Scotsburn’s process of receiving milk and turning it into butter limited their ability to grow. The creamery was nicknamed “Ruddick’s Pet Lamb” because of Commissioner J. A. Ruddick’s dedication to its success.

Luckily, in 1908, Hugh McLeod visited a successful creamery in Wisconsin and brought intel back to Scotsburn. Using this knowledge, Scotsburn was able to turn things around and develop more efficient and scalable processes. In 1919, the creamery processed 446,171 pounds of butter and 1920 production was estimated to be 600,000 pounds.

 

Early photos of Scotsburn creamery and loading up for home delivery  (photo credit: Scotsburn)

 

Growth & expansion

Over the years, Scotsburn continued to grow. The business expanded facilities in Nova Scotia, moved its headquarters to Truro and established production in Newfoundland. Moving beyond milk and butter, Scotsburn also diversified their product line and began making cottage cheese, ice cream, eggnog, buttermilk, cream, sour cream and more.

Seeking further growth in 2013, Scotsburn received a sizable $7.5 million loan from the government to expand their ice cream production in Truro. The investment was intended for new machinery and local jobs.

 

Scotsburn’s Moon Mist ice cream (left) and Holiday Nog (right)  (Photo credit: Scotsburn)

 

Big moves

Scotsburn continued to make big moves over the next few years. In 2014, the company agreed to a $61 million deal to sell the fluid milk portion of its business to leading Canadian dairy company Saputo Inc. This included production facilities in Nova Scotia and Newfoundland, plus its supply chain across Atlantic Canada. Scotsburn then focused attention on ice cream. One year later, they acquired Quebec-based ice cream producer Les Aliments Lebel Inc.

However, this eventually led to restructuring. In 2016, Scotsburn closed their popsicle plant in New Brunswick and ice cream facilities in Newfoundland. Later that year, it was announced that Scotsburn and all its remaining assets would be sold to Agropur. Scotsburn’s ice cream business filled a gap in Agropur’s product line. At the time of the deal, plans included maintaining production in Truro and local jobs.

 

A carton of Scotsburn milk and blueberry pancakes made with Scotsburn cottage cheese (photo credit: Scotsburn)

 

Still in stores

Scotsburn products are still in stores throughout Nova Scotia, P.E.I and Newfoundland today. Though ownership has expanded outside of Atlantic Canada, the 122-year-old tale of a creamery with humble beginnings in Scotsburn, N.S. remains.


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