Olymel plugs over $52M into poultry processing

The meat packing and processing arm of Quebec’s biggest agrifood co-operative has earmarked over $52 million for poultry plant upgrades and construction in Ontario and Quebec.

La Coop federee’s Olymel division in the past week has announced over $30 million for plant upgrades and the purchase of a second facility at Brampton, Ont., $14 million for a new bird reception and anaesthesia system at its Berthierville, Que. plant and an $8 million expansion of its St-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Que. chicken plant to add boning and cooking lines.

“Olymel is consolidating its position in the poultry sector in Ontario and in Canada by giving itself considerable means to increase its production capacity, actively participate in the economic development of the agri-food processing sector, and create new jobs,” CEO Rejean Nadeau said in a release last week announcing the Brampton development.

The Brampton investment, at over $30 million, is to go to redevelop Olymel’s Orenda poultry further-processing plant in that city — and to buy the former European Quality Meats plant on Westwyn Court, about 2.5 km southeast of the Orenda site, netting the company an extra 50,000 square feet of workspace.

An Olymel spokesperson said the $30 million budget would be split roughly half and half for the Orenda redevelopment and the acquisition of what Olymel will call its Westwyn plant.

The expansions at Brampton are meant to increase production capacity, particularly in its breaded poultry products segment, in order to “capitalize on business opportunities” in the HRI (hotel, restaurant, institution) network and in the retail distribution sector.

The popularity of breaded poultry products “shows no signs of slowing,” Nadeau said in last week’s release.

The Orenda plant, Olymel said, “had reached its full production capacity (and) is now equipped with a fourth breading line and high-performance equipment that are resulting in higher productivity and efficiency gains.”

The Orenda plant is also now able to produce gluten-free products “at all times,” Olymel said, both for its own house brands such as Flamingo, and for private brands.

The Orenda plant specializes in processing breaded and frozen poultry products, employs almost 320 people and operates seven days a week. The Westwyn plant, meanwhile, specializes in deboning and portioning poultry meat — previously done at the Orenda plant — employing 315 people over three shifts, five days a week, supplying Olymel’s further-processing plants and others.

“The reorganized and extended activities of these two Olymel Ontario plants that specialize in poultry processing will create more than 100 new jobs,” the company said.

The reorganization of the company’s Brampton facilities, with revised work shifts, also meant reopening a collective bargaining agreement with the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 175, Olymel noted.

Quebec upgrades

Meanwhile at Berthierville, about 60 km southwest of Trois-Rivieres, Olymel has pledged $14 million to redevelop a section of its slaughter, cutting and deboning plant and install a new carbon dioxide (CO2) bird anaesthesia system.

That plant, which already has capacity to process almost a million birds per week, supplies other Olymel plants with fresh meat and provides other fresh products including various cuts as well as trussed chickens for rotisseries.

The redevelopment, due to begin next month for completion next fall, is to include construction of a new building for receiving birds and running CO2 anaesthesia, and to house related new equipment.

The CO2 system, Olymel said, is expected to reduce bird stress, in particular due to a 40 per cent larger crate; to “significantly” improve the work environment for employees assigned to slaughtering, with better lighting and air conditioning and “far less” dust; and to boost the plant’s production capacity in terms of volume.

Olymel said it also plans to set up CO2 systems by 2019 at its other primary poultry processing plants at St-Damase and Monteregie, and at its joint-venture Sunnymel plant at Clair, N.B.

The $8 million plant expansion announced Wednesday for Olymel’s St-Jean-sur-Richelieu site, just southeast of Montreal, will include new construction along with new equipment for chicken boning and cooking — a “new activity” that’s expected to create another 40 plant jobs once the work is completed in April.

The St-Jean-sur-Richelieu plant, which gets its fresh meat from the St-Damase, Monteregie and Sunnymel plants, will then begin producing value-added diced chicken for HRI clients, for use in dishes such as pates, soups and salads.

The further-processing plant already makes products such as cold cuts, tournedos, chicken skewers and turkey roasts. The construction work is expected to add nearly 14,000 square feet of workspace there, bringing its total area to over 37,000 square feet. — AGCanada.com Network


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Editor, Daily News

Dave Bedard

Editor, Daily News, Glacier FarmMedia Network. A Saskatchewan transplant in Winnipeg.


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