Canadian Packaging

Maple Leaf Foods to build new London facility

Alanna Fairey   

General Maple Leaf Foods Inc.

Construction on the new plant will commence spring 2019.

Packaged meat capital Maple Leaf Foods Inc. has announced today that a $660-million fresh poultry facility will be built in London, Ont., in the hopes of enriching the company’s capacity to process higher-margin products. As a result, three aging plants in the province will be closed.

Maple Leaf will finance an initial $605.5 million into the plant that will serve Eastern Canada and an additional $5 million into related projects in the course of the next five years, while $34.5 million will come from the Ontario government and an additional $28 million from the Canadian government.

The new facility – to be located adjacent off of Hwy 401 – will span nearly 60,000-square-metres and will employ at least 1,450 full- and part-time workers once the operation is in full swing in the second quarter of 2021. Construction on the new plant will commence spring 2019.

“It will solidify and strengthen the poultry industry in Canada for the next many, many decades,” says Michael McCain, Maple Leaf chief executive officer.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford and federal ministers have praised the project, with the premier adding “this innovative new plant will modernize processing, and help make Ontario’s chicken farmers more competitive.”

Federal economic development minister Navdeep Bains had similar sentiments to Premier Ford, by saying that building a new plant will “keep Canada competitive in the global market and create new middle class jobs in Ontario.”

“Canada’s agri-food industry is a key driver of innovation and well-paying jobs across the country,” adds Agriculture and Agri-Food Minister Lawrence MacAulay.

The St. Mary’s plant is expected to shut down by late 202, while the Toronto and Brampton facilities will close by in mid- to late-2022.

McCain shares that he regrets the impact the shutting down of three plants will have on existing employees, and has also shared that Maple Leaf plans to provide the affected employees with job opportunities at the new facility or other operational plants, as well as offer services to help them eventually find new employment.

Looking ahead, the addition of the new London facility is expected to provide more than 30 per cent cost savings from lower labour, overhead and distribution and a one-third increase in capacity to meet growing demand.

Concludes McCain: “This is going to be, to the very best of our knowledge, the single most technologically advanced facility of its kind in the world.”


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