Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Taxpayers back Bonduelle upgrades

Ontario is investing up to $8.5 million so Bonduelle can upgrade three vegetable processing plants.

The upgrades will cost the France-based company about $80 million, but the province says it will enable the company to increase exports to the U.S. by 55 per cent.

The upgrades to the frozen-food plants are at Tecumseh, Ingersoll and Strathroy.

The investments will go to “adopt new technology to put new frozen vegetable products and packaging formats on the domestic and export markets, increase productivity, enhance food safety and increase exports,” the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs said in a news release.

The province is determined to stem the tide of losses in the fruits and vegetables processing sector. Last year it made highly-controversial moves to turf the marketing board representing vegetable growers and to install its own negotiator for 2017 crop prices.

It has since revamped the negotiating powers and rules for the marketing board and has arranged for elections of a new board of directors to represent producers.

If Bonduelle is able to increase exports by 55 per cent, it would be worth more than $30 million a year.