Continued growth of the local food movement in Ontario is also boosting demand for locally made and artisanal cheeses.
Cheese making is a highly specialized skill, and the Ontario Dairy Council has turned to Growing Forward 2 (GF2) for funding to consult with the industry and evaluate the need for training capacity in this area.
Their project focused on assessing the need for skills development and standardized training for cheese makers in Ontario, and included an electronic survey of cheese processors to understand why there is a shortage, determine how processor needs could best be met, and to quantify the need.
Response from cheese processors was very high – 85 per cent of those asked to participate in the survey did so – confirming the need in the sector for training tools and skills development resources.
Results of the survey and needs assessment identified a clear gap in skills development and training options for the dairy industry to address the increasing challenge of a limited supply of skilled cheese makers.
These findings have been incorporated into a final report and business case that have been shared with dairy organizations in Quebec, Alberta and British Columbia, as well as the Dairy Processors Association of Canada.
The Ontario Dairy Council, with assistance from the provincial government, is now determining how to best move forward with creating training tools for current and future cheese makers.
Growing Forward 2 is a federal-provincial-territorial initiative. The Agricultural Adaptation Council assists with the delivery of GF2 programming in Ontario.