Small Scale Food Processor Association SSFPA



Cowichan Bay, BC

Connoisseurs of fine French style cheeses have yet another reason to celebrate the success of Hilary’s Cheese and Deli. Not only does the company continue to offer a wide variety of European inspired delicacies, it now enjoys the latest in food safety and product-tracking technology.

“Because of implementing the food safety system we were able to engage talented expertise and to develop software that we never could have afforded on our own,” says Hilary Abbot, craftsman and co-owner of the company.

Ten years ago Hilary, his wife, Patty, and his parents launched the family business; today the couple continue to own and operate the cheese making facility as well as a retail outlet in Cowichan Bay, BC.

Located in an idyllic area of Southern Vancouver Island, Cowichan Bay has become a tourist destination as well as a region well known as a “place to find good quality food”. The Abbots are able to access both cows’ and goats’ milk from local producers as well as local wines used in the preparation of washed rind cheeses.

“We make twelve different cheeses using the milk from these two breeds of animals. Examples include fresh chevre, fromage a la crème, quark, and wine-washed cheeses,” Hilary explains.

In addition to product sold through a number of restaurants and retail outlets, customers are able to purchase product at the deli and café, managed by Patty. It’s a thriving commercial enterprise and yet another reason for out-of-town visitors to visit the community.

“We sell our own cheeses there and it is a boom for us because of tourism,” he continues.

hilary2But the making of a business, not unlike the making of fine cheese, calls for the right combination of ingredients, processes and industry know-how. Hilary knew that in addition to his expertise as an artisanal craftsman, the company needed to move forward in implementing more advanced food safety and tracking systems. He credits Small Scale Food Processor Association (SSFPA) for adding the crucial “next step” to an already successful commercial venture.

“Participating in the Food Safety Systems Implementation (Processor) Program (FSSI) has benefited us immensely,” he says.

In addition to being enabled to access the skills of industry experts, working with FSSI team members has resulted in a greater level of knowledge for staff and an appropriation of up-to-date work procedures. Now, he says, things are done much differently.

“We’d still be cobbling information together. If there was a problem, it would take us longer to identify it,” he says. “Now we’re able to track that and take it off the shelf as quickly as possible.”

According to Abbot, continuing to operate without the expertise provided by FSSI would mean he and his staff would have continued to work less efficiently and without the level of protection they now enjoy.

“Because of FSSI we can track every process, every drop of milk we process and with batch codes that can be tracked right down to the customer level so that every invoice that goes out enables us to identify which product went to which customer. We all could save a lot of money by not spending money on insurance but when you need it, you’re glad you did.”

Watch a short video interview with Hilary Abbot.

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