CANADA – Maple Leaf Foods, a major Canadian consumer packaged meats company has announced plans to construct a US$497.7 million (CAD 660 million) value-added fresh poultry processing facility in London, Ontario, Canada.

The new 640,000 square feet site will help the company meet growing demand and strengthen competitiveness of Canadian poultry sector.

According to the company, the facility will feature advanced poultry processing technology with leading-edge food safety, environmental, and animal welfare processes and technologies.

It will be funded by Maple Leaf Foods, government of Ontario, government of Canada under the Strategic Innovation Fund and a US$ 6.02 million loan from AgriInnovate Fund.

Maple Leaf will invest a further US$3.76 million over the next five years on projects that accelerate adoption of advanced manufacturing and production technologies and support the Company’s goal to reduce its environmental footprint by 50% by 2025.

“This world-class facility will enable Maple Leaf to meet the steadily growing consumer demand for premium, value-added poultry products, and strengthen Canada’s food system,” said Michael H. McCain, President and CEO.

“It will incorporate leading edge food safety, environmental and animal care technologies that advance our vision to be the global leader in sustainable protein. This is a historic investment in the Canadian poultry sector, providing significant stakeholder and economic benefits and ensuring that Canada has sufficient domestic processing capacity to meet forecasted poultry production and demand.”

The project is expected to deliver annualized benefits of US$79.11 million to the Company’s adjusted EBITDA within 12 months of completing start-up, and by the end of 2023.

Construction at the London site is expected to begin in the spring of 2019, with start-up planned to commence in the second quarter of 2021.

The new plant will initially support over 1,450 direct full and part-time jobs and generate an estimated US$905.28 million of annual economic activity once it is fully operational.

Old site closures and consolidation

The company said production from its three sub-scale and aging plants in Ontario will eventually be consolidated into the new facility.

The Company’s plant in St. Marys is expected to close by late 2021, while its plants in Toronto and Brampton are expected to close by mid-late 2022.

“We deeply regret the impact that these eventual closures will have on our people and communities,” said Mr. McCain.

“While these closures are several years away we are informing our people well in advance, allowing us to openly communicate and support them through this long-term transition.

We will provide them with job opportunities at the new facility and other Maple Leaf plants, and services to help them eventually secure new employment.”