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USW Local 1-306 member Kanela Villanera featured on ‘The Faces of Agropur’

September 26, 2023
A person standing indoors wearing white protective overcoat with two fluorescent yellow stripes going vertically, one horizontally and one around each arm. The person is also wearing a hair net and a white helmet.

Kanela Villanera is a proud member of USW Local 1-306 (Agropur Dairy Cooperative) in Miramichi, N.B.

Kanela Villanera is on a mission for high-quality milk

Kanela Villanera has found her niche in the milk industry. The quality control technician at Agropur’s Miramichi plant in New Brunswick finds motivation every day in a maxim: “All you need is love and a glass of milk.”

“I’m proud because I know that the Cooperative is renowned for the attention it pays to its customers, its community, its workers, and its partners,” says Kanela, who started her job just over two years ago. “Every time I’d go by the plant, I’d tell myself I was going to work there one day, and that’s what happened.”

In her job, the 37-year-old technician has been able to put into practice what she loves the most: working in the food industry. “I’m motivated because I know that every day is a learning opportunity and that I will learn something new,” says Kanela.

An adherent in every respect to the Cooperative’s mission and vision in matters of quality, Kanela sees her main responsibility as providing Agropur’s customers and consumers with high-quality milk that meets the highest standards. “I ensure the overall quality of the milk in accordance with the guidelines, the quality plans, and the requirements,” she explains. “I report and deal with any problem that might affect the quality of the product and the plant.”

And her work is recognized in the plant. “Kanela puts her whole heart into making sure the Agropur plant in Miramichi offers a high-quality product to its customers,” says the plant’s human resources manager, Nola Manderville. “She has a strong team spirit and encourages the others to be part of it.”

From the Philippines to New Brunswick

Kanela Villanera is from the Philippines. Dreaming of a better future for her family, she moved to Canada in September 2017 and was joined three months later by her husband and daughter. She has worked in the food industry from a young age.

“In the Philippines, we had a small bakery at home, managed by my parents. My father then decided to work as a pastry chef on a cruise ship, leading to the closure of the bakery, but I always knew agri-food was going to be my career path,” recalls Kanela, who graduated from the University of Santo Tomas in Manila with a bachelor’s degree in food science and technology and started her career in the restaurant business.

Even on her days off, she indulges in her passion for cooking and food. “I make sure I prepare something special for my family. I like to experiment and try different recipes, so my husband and children don’t get bored with my cooking,” she laughs.

Love of family above all

Married for 10 years and the mother of a 10-year-old daughter, Kaedell, and a 3-year-old boy, Khali, Kanela feels that she and her family have integrated well into their new environment. “My family is the number one reason I wake up every day to go to work. I also like working with the people around me. Since my arrival, I’ve felt really welcomed by my workmates,” concludes Kanela, who likes to go to the pool with her children in the summer and visit new places in Canada with the family. She has a particular fondness for soccer, a sport she played as a student athlete in university.

“All you need is love and a glass of milk,” Kanela said at the time. She knew what she was talking about.

At a glance

Name: Kanela Villanera
Plant: Miramichi (New Brunswick)
Role: Quality control technician
Duties: Kanela starts her day by checking all the temperatures, collecting milk samples for the day, and performing microbial tests and sensory evaluations on each product, while ensuring that all standards are met. Part of her work consists in checking all the filling lines and visiting the cooler. She also checks the finished products, performs shelf-life tests, records the results and data for reference, and disinfects and cleans the laboratory.

This article originally appears in Agropur Dairy Cooperative’s website in ‘The Faces of Agropur’ section and can be found by clicking on this link. Thank you to Agropur Dairy Cooperative for sharing this story with us.

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