30 years have passed and for some, Expo 86 is a distant memory. For those of us in the dairy industry at the time, it was a very busy and challenging time. BC had invited the world to Vancouver and the people came in large numbers. Over 22 million people visited the Expo site in Vancouver from May to October 1986 and many stayed to tour our wonderful province. The event changed Vancouver and BC.
The success of Expo 86 was the result of a tremendous amount of cooperation and support from the people and the businesses in the province. The dairy industry had its part to play and it did it with distinction. Food distributors needed to service the 65 pavilions as well as the many restaurants and concessions on the Expo site. Dairyland Foods, owned by the Fraser Valley Milk Producers’ Association, was the official supplier of dairy products for the Expo 86 site. Planning for supply and service of dairy products for Expo 86 began a year in advance. The industry had to predict the increased demand and ensure that there would be a sufficient supply of milk for the anticipated guests. The milk plants had to be ready to process, package and deliver dairy products to meet the demand. Milk quotas were increased and milk plants geared up to increase their production. Ice Cream would be a big seller. Dairyland increased its production capacity and storage capacity at its Burnaby Lozelles ice cream plant.
Supplying the 173 acres at the Expo 86 grounds was a challenge. Because of the large crowds and congestion during the day, the major food deliveries had to be made between midnight and opening. Dairyland had three refrigerated delivery trucks designated to serving the Expo site. They loaded the orders in the evening and arrived at midnight just as the last of the crowds exited the site. Finding the many pavilions and restaurants at night was a bit of a challenge at first, but the drivers learned quickly and the dairy products reached their customers. At the start of their shift, the drivers would exchange such remarks as “I’ll meet you at Russia” or “Take this extra tub of ice cream to Hawaii” or “USA needs some cottage cheese”. With the warm summer weather, consumption of milk, ice cream and other dairy products increased significantly. Customers’ dairy needs were difficult to predict so Dairyland had trucks available 24 hours each day to rush extra dairy orders to the Expo 86 site.
Starting in March 1985, a year before Expo 86 opened its gates, until Expo ended in October 1986, every edition of the Butter-Fat Magazine listed the multitude of Expo 86 activities. These articles are now a wonderful chronicle of the activities at Expo 86 and around the province. You can learn more about Expo 86 by going to www.bcdairyhistory.ca and clicking on the Butter-Fat tab then typing Expo 86 in the search box.