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Olymel pork plant to get $11 million in upgrades

Pork and poultry packer Olymel has budgeted $11 million in expansions and new equipment for a Quebec sausage processing plant to handle hams and other smoked meats and boost its output by about 50 per cent.

The company, part of agrifood and ag retail co-operative La Coop federee, announced Thursday that upgrades are expected to begin next week in its plant at St-Henri-de-Levis, on the South Shore near Quebec City.

New equipment is expected to “increase efficiency” and raise the plant’s annual production capacity to almost 60 million kg of pork products, from 40 million currently, Olymel said.

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About 3,000 square feet will also be added to the building, bringing its total area to about 170,000 square feet, the company said.

The plant today is dedicated to smoked sausages and other wares such as bologna, pepperoni, salami, mock chicken and smoked ham, Olymel said. A new smoker, chillers and production and packaging equipment are expected to expand the plant’s production of smoked products such as hams.

Olymel telegraphed its plans for the St-Henri plant in June, when it bought Trois-Rivieres sausage maker La Fernandiere and said it would centralize all its fresh and breakfast sausage lines, including the Olymel and Lafleur brands, at the La Fernandiere plant.

Fresh and breakfast sausages made at St-Henri “should be replaced by equivalent volumes in the ham production sector,” Olymel said at the time.

The upgrades announced Thursday for St-Henri are expected to create over 30 jobs at the plant, which today has about 530 staff, represented by UFCW Local 501.

Olymel on Thursday also announced the plant’s unionized staff, “in connection” with the planned expansions, have voted to approve a six-year extension in their current collective agreement, to October 2022.

Relocating ham further-processing to St-Henri takes place alongside a move Olymel announced last month, in which it will shut down ham deboning lines at its St-Hyacinthe, Que. plant and move that work to pork plants with both slaughtering and butchering operations.

Olymel’s recent reorganizations follow La Coop federee’s announcement in Feburary that it plans to sell an ownership stake of up to 49 per cent in Olymel, to fund further expansions in pork processing and ag retail in Western Canada. — AGCanada.com Network

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