06/22/2013 12:24 EDT | Updated 08/22/2013 05:12 EDT

Dairy giant cutting 9% of workforce in Atlantic Canada

A Quebec dairy giant has announced it will layoff 9 per cent of its Atlantic Canadian workforce, just days after the company's second acquisition of a Nova Scotia dairy.

Agropur, a dairy co-operative based out of Longueuil, Que., announced Friday that it would shed 45 jobs at plants in Nova Scotia and Newfoundland.

The move comes a little over a week after the company announced the elimination of 13 Farmers Dairy office employees across Atlantic Canada.

Agropur said it is committed to maintaining 450 positions in the Atlantic Region.

Brian Bennett, who speaks for unionized workers at the plant in Bedford, N.S., said any job loss is unfortunate but he said he is happy to see a big player, such as Agropur, investing in local dairies.

"We feel, as workers, and we've been told as a regional player, Farmers just wasn't big enough anymore to compete with dairy companies like Saputo — who can go into Costco and make these national deals. I mean, Farmers Dairy couldn't compete with that, so we decided to link up and merge with Agropur and we feel confident that we're going to get stronger now," he said.

Farmers Dairy merged with Agropur in February. On Thursday, the company announced its purchase of Cook’s Dairy of Chebogue, N.S. — its second Nova Scotia-based dairy acquisition.

In a news release, Agropur said that cheese production and operations would stop at the Truro, N.S. plant and that the plant would focus on manufacturing butter and other products.

"Employees were informed of the decision. As per our commitment at the time of the merger, we are maintaining our production facilities and securing the milk processed by our members in the Atlantic Provinces and we remain committed to our $10 million investment program in the region," said Robert Coallier, Agropur CEO in the release.

Bennett said he expects much of that $10-million investment will go to consolidating work at the Bedford plant.

Nova Scotia’s only remaining independent dairy is Scotsburn.