Olymel plans major expansion for Quebec hog plant

(Regis Lefebure photo courtesy ARS/USDA)

The meat packing arm of Quebec’s La Coop federee has budgeted $25 million for a major expansion project at its hog slaughter and butchering plant at St-Esprit, Que.

Olymel’s expansion plan, announced Tuesday, is expected to bring the plant’s floor space to over 215,000 square feet, up by about 35,000 square feet, and boost its slaughter capacity to 40,000 head per week, from 30,000.

The plant at St-Esprit, about 35 km north of Montreal in the Lanaudiere region, already employs 810 people and is expected to take on up to 200 more when the expansion is complete, the company said.

Olymel said its St-Esprit staff, represented by United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 1991-P, have agreed to extend their collective agreement, due to expire at the end of May 2018, for an extra seven years past that date.

The extended agreement with UFCW “allows us to carry through with the development project, maintain existing jobs, and also create new ones,” Olymel said.

The expansion is also expected to add a new refrigeration room and reorganize production tables to increase output of “value-added” products, the company said.

The St-Esprit plant produces various cuts of pork, seasoned pork products and vacuum-packed products, mainly for domestic markets but also for export to China and elsewhere. It will also handle chilled (refrigerated fresh) pork after the expansion, the company said.

“This development project at our St-Esprit facility represents a major investment in the hog slaughtering and butchering sectors, and will benefit the entire pork industry in Quebec,” Olymel CEO Rejean Nadeau said in the company’s release.

Olymel in the past couple of years has sought to boost its supplies and production capacity, partnering with packers Atrahan and Lucyporc to slaughter hogs at those companies’ respective plants at Yamachiche, west of Trois-Rivieres.

Olymel earlier this month announced it would buy Trois-Rivieres sausage maker La Fernandiere, and plans to boost its plant’s processing capacity to also handle Olymel’s sausage lines.

Olymel’s Quebec City-area plant at St-Henri-de-Levis, which until now has processed fresh and breakfast sausages, will move instead into ham processing, the company said June 7.

La Coop federee’s CEO Gaetan Desroches told the Reuters news service earlier this year it plans to sell a stake of up to 49 per cent in Olymel, to fund further expansion in Western Canada.

Desroches said La Coop plans to expand hog production in Western Canada and boost processing at its Olymel slaughter plant at Red Deer, Alta., and also to seek partners to open farm supply stores in the West. — AGCanada.com Network

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