Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Skinning the cat

The national egg marketing agency is skinning the cat - again.

It seems able to increase prices whenever it feels the need.

In the current case, it didn't bother to consult the Canadian Egg and Poultry Processors Council, as it usually does, before it hiked the price it is charging for eggs for processing.

That decision will cut into margins in the food-processing industry because those companies which buy Canadian-priced egg products have to compete with imported products made with U.S.-priced eggs.

Normally the national agency has priced processing eggs according to U.S. market prices in order to give Canadian food processors a reasonable chance to remain competitive against imports.

Herman Turkstra, lawyer for the egg processors' council, said it is asking the Farm Products Council of Canada to intervene. That government-appointed council oversees the national egg, chicken, turkey and hatching egg marketing agencies.

A price increase for processing eggs will reduce costs for the egg farmers who underwrite the price differential between table-market and processing-market eggs.

Turkstra indicated that the government council is balking at allowing the national egg agency to continue to pass on all of the costs involved in diverting eggs from the one market to the other in the cost-of-production formula - i.e. passing on all of the costs to table-market egg consumers.

Small processors appeal to commission

Guelph – John Slot, general manager of the Ontario Independent Poultry Processors, argued long and hard during a day-long hearing here that the association ought to be included in a newly-established and powerful committee established to advise the Chicken Farmers of Ontario marketing board.

A panel of four members of the Ontario Farm Products Marketing Commission, led by former agriculture minister Elmer  Buchanan, listened patiently to Slot, then to presentations from the Association of Ontario Chicken Processors (AOCP) and the marketing board.

In a nutshell, the independents fear that they won’t be able to buy enough chickens to satisfy their market demands, mainly from niche markets such as organic, Kosher, Halal, dual purpose, raised-without-antibiotics and Cornish-hen birds.

The AOCP counters that it represents the full spectrum of chicken processors, both large and small and many serving the same specialty markets, and it has finally managed, after years of failed attempts, to develop a productive working relationship with the Chicken Farmers of Ontario marketing board.

Lawyer Herman Turkstra, representing the processors, said it would be “disruptive” to interfere with this progress by adding the Ontario Independent Poultry Processors (OIPP) to the Chicken Industry Advisory Committee.

Slot countered that this new spirit of co-operation appears to come at the expense of "throwing the OIPP members under the bus".

Turkstra argued that the commission has three members on the committee to match the three from the AOCP and the chicken board and they, plus the commission member who acts as chair, will ensure the best interests of the industry are served, including the interests of small-scale niche-market processors.

Turkstra and the chicken board also argued that the OIPP is free to make its views known at any time and Henry Zantingh, vice-chairman of the marketing board, assured the commission those views will receive serious consideration.

Zantingh said OIPP concerns could be carried by the chicken board representatives to the advisory committee meetings, but he also made no promises that their views would be presented or supported by the board.

Slot argued that the OIPP has been recognized in industry negotiations for more than a decade, that it was involved in two previous rounds of negotiations to establish allocation of chicken supplies among processors and it is only now that a deal between Ontario and Quebec is in the works that it has been excluded from key meetings.

He said the deal could have serious adverse implications for small-scale processors, such as a one per cent “sleeve” on supplies. Kevin Thompson of the AOCP said that the Quebec-Ontario deal would, in fact, offer smaller-scale processors even greater flexibility than they now have, but did not explain how.

Turkstra said the OIPP can, if it remains concerned about any policy the chicken board eventually adopts as a result of committee recommendations, launch an appeal, first to the chicken board, then to the tribunal (Ontario Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs Appeal Tribunal).

The Ontario-Quebec deal remains to be ratified. The first step is approval from the Quebec government’s body that supervises its chicken marketing board. Then it will be up to the Ontario commission to ratify whatever policies and regulations the Ontario board decides it wants to implement.

Reg Cliche, chairman of the AOCP and an employee of Maple Leaf Foods Inc., the largest chicken processor in Ontario, said the committee has made a great deal of progress developing a strategic plan for the Ontario chicken industry.

He and Thompson said that plan will be unveiled in a matter of weeks or months.

In the meantime, the committee is exercising confidentiality. Slot said that means the OIPP members don’t know what’s coming and have had no input.

Thompson and Cliche both said the OIPP’s involvement would be “disruptive,” but under close questioning by Slot, could not point to anything that the OIPP has done or said that’s disruptive.

Their concern is that the OIPP has a narrow agenda – looking after the interests of its members – and doesn’t take a broader, industry-wide view. Slot countered that the chicken board has valued the OIPP input and views in the past and, in 2005, the two were in agreement on a proposed memoradum of understanding, but it was the AOCP that refused to sign.

Zantingh said the underlying issue is that, under national supply management, Ontario has not been allocated enough chicken production to satisfy demand.

“Differential growth” has become the catch phrase for proposals to resolve that issue and Slot noted that the OIPP and marketing board staff worked long and hard to develop a proposal on differential growth, but then they were shut out by the Ontario-Quebec consultations that led to the agreement in principle.

At the beginning of the hearing on Aug. 30, Slot read two letters, one dated Friday, Aug. 26, from Henry Van Voorst resigning as chair of OIPP, the other dated Monday, Aug. 29, from Cericola Farms Ltd. resigning from the OIPP. Voorst works for Cericola Farms.

Slot said privately that the resignations were done to take them out of the firing line of an AOCP attack.

Terpstra noted that Cericola Farms holds 1.8 per cent market share and all of the other OIPP members combined hold 1.3 per cent market share. Thompson said AOCP represents members with 96.9 per cent market share.

Slot countered that OIPP had 42.2 per cent of the province's processors as members up until the resignation of Cericola Farms.

Construction begins in New Brunswick

Olymel and Westco have started $2.2 million worth of site preparation construction for their planned new Sunnymel chicken processing plant at Clair in the Madawaska region.

The plant is controversial because it’s large enough to service the entire Atlantic region with weekly processing capacity of 450,000 birds. That leaves Nadeau Poultry, owned by Maple Lodge Farms Ltd. of Norval, Ont., with no birds to process and therefore no markets. The partners estimate it will cost $40 million to build.

Nadeau does, however, have an agreement with a Nova Scotia co-operative to build a new plant there. It is currently processing Nova Scotia birds at its New Brunswick facility.

While construction is underway, New Brunswick’s chicken producers who support Westco and the Sunnymel proposal are shipping their birds to an Olymel plant in Quebec.

At one point, the Nova Scotia government intervened to order producers to ship their birds to Nadeau, but later changed that decision and now says this is essentially a competition between the two companies and it’s not going to intervene.

Nadeau was rebuffed by the province when it recently made another bid to gain assurance of chicken supplies to keep its plant running.

There is an implication for Ontario because one of the issues in the New Brunswick confrontation has been inter-provincial trade in live chicken. That’s a hot-button issue between Ontario and Quebec; marketing boards in both provinces have a tentative deal to effect a truce, but it has yet to be ratified and implemented.

The first step towards ratification will be a decision from the Quebec government’s body that supervises the marketing board. Then it will be up to Ontario’s marketing board and its supervisory body, the Ontario Farm Products Marketing Commission, to pass regulations to bring their part of the agreement into force.

There was a commission hearing in Guelph recently to deal with concerns that a number of small-scale chicken processors have with the process involved in negotiating the Quebec-Ontario agreement and their anticipation that it will have adverse effects on their operations.

Monday, August 29, 2011

No farm policy choices

There are no real choices in the upcoming provincial election.

The Ontario Federation of Agriculture is putting together a platform that is sure to be endorsed in part, if not in full, by all of the major parties.

The Ontario Federation of Agriculture has also just issued a news release praising the government for working to cut red tape. I'll bet the Liberals love that! Maybe accreditation is coming soon from the appeals tribunal, which held re-accreditation hearings in June.

All parties are sure to endorse supply management for the dairy and poultry sectors. None are calling for an inquiry into the egg industry, despite compelling evidence that some things are very much amiss.

None are criticizing the failure of supply management in the chicken industry where the processors with the most eager customers can't get enough and the ones who dominate the industry trying to throttle their growth.

None are calling for an end to the failed milk board efforts to put a lid on quota prices. The failure is that the growth of the most innovative, progressive and efficient producers is stymied.

None seems to mind the turkey industry is dominated by fewer than 10 "farmers".

None is willing to help low-income consumers as much as millionaire quota holders.

And then there's health care.  I have a 93-year-old mother-in-law who has been in desperate need of a space in a nursing home.  Nobody can make arrangements; we are all forced to go through the Community Care Access Centres. There are lots of paper pushers in that bureaucracy, but none of them can place needy seniors because the province hasn't allowed enough spaces to be built. It's been like that for 20 years.

Yet there are tens of millions in subsidies for electric cars, for solar energy, wind energy, and any business that has expansion plans in the works. The businessmen with good, sound ideas and plans don't need subsidies, but why turn them down? And then there are the poor ideas and plans that simply waste taxpayers' grants, loans and tax breaks.

They have called an election, but there are no real choices. It's all smoke and mirrors, bombast and promises they either can't keep, or never intend to honour.

want the marketing boards to solidify their dominance.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Egg import bureaucrats unpredictable

I have come across a lawsuit Sweda Farms Ltd. and Best Choice Eggs filed against the federal government, trying to get answers as to why it suddenly failed to get supplementary import permits for Grade A Large Brown organic and Grade A Large Brown free-range eggs for the pre-Christmas market in 2009.

There are several surprising things revealed in this lawsuit. One is that the Export and Import Controls Bureau of the federal Department of International Trade did not give any reasons for suddenly failing to issue permits when the national egg marketing agency said it could not fill the orders.

Another is that the same bureau issued supplementary import permits to others for those same types of eggs. That, of course, meant they enjoyed a competitive advantage in the marketplace, including a chance to snatch Best Choice's customers.

When Sweda Farms, through lawyer Donald Good of Ottawa, sought reasons for the denial to grant the permits, Kathleen Funtek, director of the Trade Controls Program Division of the Export and Import Controls Bureau said basically that the Minister of International Trade can do whatever he likes. He is not bound by any policy, precedent, etc. Stockwell Day was the minister at the time, but there is no indication in any of the correspondence that he ever saw Sweda Farm's applications or complaints.

So where does the government get its advice on how to handle these types of issues?

Well, as I posted a couple of days ago, there is an advisory committee.

And are you surprised that Sweda Farms has no representatives on that committee, but its chief competitors do?

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

More detained eggs

According to information recently posted on the Canadian Food Inspection Agency website, there were two detentions of defective eggs at Les Ouefs Ovale S.E.C. of St-Lambert-de-Lauzon, Que., last year. One was on Oct. 28, the other Nov. 11.

No reasons are provided.

Ovale is partly owned by Bill Gray, best known for his ownership of L.H. Gray and Son Ltd. and Gray Ridge Eggs, and by Meb Gillani, in the news recently when his Sparks Farms egg-grading business in Alberta burned down.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Advisory committees on imports

The federal government has set up special committees to provide advice on how highly-valuable quotas for importing eggs, chicken, turkey, hatching eggs and chicks and dairy products ought to be managed.

There are no consumer or public-interest groups on the committees which are dominated by marketing boards and processing companies.

Hardly anything is ever said about these committees and, in fact, when I recently asked, I was referred to four different federal bureaucracies and it took several weeks before I got an explanation from the Department of Foreign Affairs, Industry and Trade where the original request was directed.

The answer is that “the Tariff Quota Advisory Committees (TQACs) provide advice on technical issues regarding the administration of the tariff rate quota (TRQ) allocation system to the Minister of International Trade, through his officials.”

A quota entitles the holder to import either without a tariff or a very low level of tariff, meaning they can sell those imports at much higher Canadian market prices – often two to three times what they pay for the imports. 

By now it should be no surprise to readers of this blog that people from both Burnbrae Farms and L.H. Gray and Son Ltd. sit on the egg committee.

“The committees are not expected to vote or to reach decisionsThe Minister responsible for the Export and Import Permits Act retains full discretion to accept or reject any recommendations or proposals of any of the committees,” the DFAIT spokesman e-mailed.
“When the need arises, a meeting is called and each member chooses a representative. The last TQAC meeting was this past June and was regarding chicken. There is been no TQAC meeting concerning eggs in the last year.
“There are TQACs for the chicken and turkey, dairy, broiler hatching eggs and chicks, eggs and egg products, beef and veal, margarine and cheese.”

As an example, the committee for eggs has representatives from the Egg Farmers of Canada national agency, the Canadian Poultry and Egg Processors of Canada, the Canadian Association of Regulated Importers, Agriculture and Agri Food Canada, the Farm Products Council of Canada, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, the Canada Border Services Agency and Finance Canada.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Court documents for egg case sealed

Justice Peter Lauwers has issued a draconian sealing order that effectively hides all of the court documents involved in the lawsuits Sweda Farms has filed against L.H. Gray and Son Ltd., Burnbrae Farms Ltd. and the Egg Farmers of Ontario marketing board.

Lauwers' order comes in the context of a recent Supreme Court of Canada ruling that over-turned a restrictive sealing order that was challenged by lawyers for news media organizations.

Lauwers mentioned that decision when Gray's lawyers asked for a sealing order in June. After that, I asked Lauwers to consider the public interest before he issued his decision. Maybe he figures there is no public interest.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Global Egg Corp. detention

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency, as part of its new "transparency" initiative, has posted the names of companies involved in product seizures and detentions.

The only entry for Ontario is Global Egg Products, Elmira, where frozen albumen was detained.

No volume or reasons are provided because a CFIA news media relations officer said "that's considered proprietary information."

Global is partly owned by L.H. Gray and Son Ltd. in partnership with Aaron Kwinter.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Olymel recalls bacon

Import inspectors for the United States identified Lysteria monocytogenes in bacon made by Olymel at its plant at Cornwall, Ont., prompting a recall of 170 tonnes of bacon.

The Aliments Prince makes bacon for many other companies because it is one of the few specialized bacon-making plants in Canada.

The recall applies to bacon with production dates before Aug. 10 and includes 10-pound shipping containers of brand names Olymel, Assoluti, Bellissimo, Stefano and Napoli.

The recall extends across Canada and the United States.

The recall is the biggest since Maple Leaf Foods Inc. was hit two years ago for product processed at its Barton Road plant in Toronto.

That resulted in the death of at least 20 people and a class-action lawsuit that the company settled for $27 million.

Why, I wonder, was this food-poisoning bacteria only brought to our attention after U.S. officials sampled and tested the bacon?  Was there never any previous finding of Listeria monocytogenes in the plant or Olymel products made there?

After the fact, we learned that there had been plenty of earlier warning test results at Maple Leaf Foods.

Retraction and apology

As reported July 15, I was mistaken in my reporting about business connections between L.H. Gray and Son Ltd. and Nutri Ouef.  I apologize for any embarrassment this has caused.

A lawyer for L.H. Gray and Son Ltd. informs me that Scott Brookshaw did not tell reporter Mary Baxter what she reported on the Better Farming website.  I telephoned Mr. Brookshaw to ask whether that quote was accurate, and he did not respond.  The lawyer writes " the fact that Mr. Brookshaw would not return your calls is irrelevant."  He adds that "now that you know that the statements were not made by Mr. Brookshaw and based on erroneous information, you have an obligation to apologize and retract this statement."

And so, I apologize for repeating the report that Mr. Brookshaw believes an employee wrote a letter to the Ontario Ministry of Labour which led to an investigation and temporary closure of an egg-grading facility until safety guards were installed.

I also apologize for reporting that Gray Ridge is "skirting on the edge of regulations which carry sanctions to those who threaten or intimidate employees to provide information to Federal or Provincial Inspection Services."

Monday, August 15, 2011

OMAFRA misled us

The Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs misled us by saying "there is no document available in the Ontario Farm Products Marketing Commission pertaining to Commission approved regulations restricting applicants from declaring eggs surplus for the purpose of having them diverted from the 'table' to the 'processing' market and therefore there are no directives that exist outlining how the regulations are to be administered or applied."

Not so.

A friend has sent me this from the Egg Farmers of Ontario's regulations:

Section 8, page 71 - Invitation to Tender

16. It is the policy of the Board that any Grading Station which tenders eggs to the Board and at t he same time, is importing eggs or is handling imported eggs for the shell market, will not have their tender accepted unless prior arrangements have been made with the Board concerning such imports. Failure to comply with this policy may result in the board refusing to accept a tender from such Grading Station, for a period of four weeks.

This being the case, why doesn't Egg Farmers of Ontario check the grading stations that declare heavy surpluses in early January, after they have obtained U.S. eggs on supplementary import permits?

The egg board has the power under Section 7, on page 64, to inspect documents and records of grading stations. Under that power it could also independently check the accuracy of allegations that undergrades have been sold as Grade A eggs.

Maybe Harry Pelissero doesn't want to know. Nor, I expect, would L.H. Gray and Son Ltd. and Burnbrae Farms welcome egg board snooping in their records. Then, again, the egg board feted Joe Hudson during a recent annual meeting.

But, back to the OMAFRA stone-walling; what do you think we ought to do to the Commission? You know, the one that refuses to launch an inquiry into the egg industry. And the chairman who never, ever, answered my calls about the regulations just cited.

More price fixing

I have come across a court file involving Macartneys of Ottawa, an egg grading business and at one time an importer-distributor of Easy Eggs for a U.S. manufacturer.

The court documents indicate the relationship between Macartneys and its supplier deteriorated and that James Macartney approached Joe Hudson of Burnbrae Farms to do a deal so Burnbrae could supply his Easy Egg customers with Burnbrae's liquid egg products.

Hudson, in return, offered to hand the Giant Tiger table-market egg business to Macartney. The court documents indicate Joe Hudson offered to phone Macartney whenever the Giant Tiger account came up for competitive bidding, find out what Macartney would bid, and then agree to quote a higher price.

That was for a two-year period for sales of $2 million. The deal between Macartney and Hudson was for five years.

In return, Burnbrae was to get the Marriott and Fairmont hotels account and Compass, but he would have to compete with Trilogy for those accounts. Trilogy was a joint venture of the Manitoba Egg Producers Marketing Board, Michael Foods Inc. and Inovatech to make the Easy Egg product in Canada.

Burnbrae also got Macartney's salesman, Gordon Dowd, and all his client information.

Friday, August 12, 2011

B.C.'s small egg graders disgruntled

British Columbia is a difficult province to compete in the egg business, especially as a small-scale egg grader, because you’re up against the egg marketing board monopoly.

In B.C., all eggs are bought and sold by the marketing board, so if you’re in the grading business, you’re buying from the egg board.

The egg board decides how many eggs you will get and which farms will supply them.

But the members of the B.C. Egg Marketing Board are also 50 per cent owners of the dominant egg-grading business, Golden Valley.  The other half is owned by Bill Gray of Ontario, the egg grader who stands accused of putting undergrades – mainly cracks – into cartons sold to consumers as Grade A eggs. Gray denies any wrongdoing and the truth between his accusers and his denials remains to be decided in court.

Small egg-grading stations have been driven out of business, and they complain it’s because of a blatant conflict of interest by the egg farmers who are directors of both Golden Valley and of the B.C. Egg Marketing Board.

Take the case of Veekens Eggs Ltd. of Prince George, B.C. It complained that it was not getting its fair share of a provincial fund of about $900,000 to subsidize transport of eggs to remote areas of the province.

Prince George, it would seem to me and most British Columbians, would qualify as one of those communities, but Veekens says the lack of support from this fund resulted in the failure of its business which had been going for 54 years. Golden Valley captures the lion’s share of the fund.

Golden Valley services the biggest accounts in the province, as you might expect, given its dominant position in the grading business. But what seems strange is that its business includes taking eggs produced in the interior to its grading facilities in the lower Fraser Valley, then collecting the transportation subsidy to move them back to supermarkets in the interior.

Meanwhile, local egg graders, such as Mountain Morning Farms at Salmon Arm, have been run out of business. Owner Myles Materi sent me a stack of documents outlining years of battles with the B.C. Egg Marketing Board. Without getting into the details, he believes the egg board/Golden Valley directors ran him out of business as both a producer and grader.

Materi says one of the original charges was that he failed to pay farmers for eggs, yet he furnished copies of invoices from the egg board indicating there had been payment in full.

He complains that he can’t get a fair hearing from the egg board, from its supervisory body, the Farm Industry Review Board (FIRB), or provincial ministers of agriculture.

He has been accused of making death threats, but then exonerated; he has had chickens seized by the board “as evidence” and has been unable to get the board to pay about $200,000 to continue looking after "its evidence" for two years; he has had his quota cancelled for failure to place a flock, which he says he can’t do because his barn is filled with B.C. Egg Marketing Board “evidence” chickens.

Jim Collins, chairman of the FIRB, promised about a year ago that he would investigate. Nobody seems to know where that investigation stands.

The B.C. egg board wrote letters promising Materi and his bank that it would supply him with eggs for his grading station; now it says it doesn’t have to honour those promises.

Consumers are complaining that they can’t buy locally-produced eggs – other than Golden Valley ones trucked to the Vancouver area and back – and they can’t get eggs from small Mom and Pop shops since Golden Valley decided it will no longer service them.

For a while, Golden Valley shipped eggs to a wholesale site in the interior where small grading station owners who had been driven out of business would pick them up to deliver to their small-volume customers; now Golden Valley has stopped supplying them.

Consumers have filed about 80 letters of complaints. Typical is this one, sent in March of 2009, by Karen Nayki who said “I really do not appreciate the Egg Marketing Board telling me that I can no longer buy local fresh eggs, that I have to buy eggs that are not from this area and have been trucked all over the province.

“What happened to the carbon policy? Saving fuel? Eggs that have been trucked from the interior to the coast and back again are not fresh to me," she wrote.

“This is an insult to our intelligence, the egg marketing board of directors having shares, now isn’t this a conflict of interest? So what happens to our local producers now?” Etc., etc.

Bourdeau appeals contempt conviction

 Whistleblower Norman Bourdeau has filed an appeal of his conviction on a contempt of court charge filed by egg-business company L.H. Gray and Son Ltd. of Strathroy and Listowel.

The appeal motion is scathing in its criticisms of Justice Peter Lauwers who released his decision July 28 in Oshawa. The appeal has been filed in Toronto.

Bourdeau notes that Lauwers was a senior partner of the law firm that represented Gray before he was appointed judge, claims he demonstrated bias in favour of Gray’s lawyers and against Bourdeau during the open-court hearing June 10 and cites a long list of evidence Lauwers ignored, although he said in court on June 10 that he had read the files.

Bourdeau was found in contempt for retaining copies of the electronic files he took from Gray and sharing the information with others, but Bourdeau says that was well known for many months before Gray’s lawyers said in court that they did not become aware of it until this January.

Bourdeau says that the court files show that Gray’s lawyers knew that Svante Lind of Best Choice Eggs had obtained hard copies and two computer discs of the information Bourdeau took when they were served with legal documents in April 2010.

Also, the court file that Lauwers said he read contains documents for an examination of Bourdeau in May during which Gray's lawyers confronted Bourdeau with the documents.

When Gray filed an injunction in London to prevent Bourdeau from sharing information from the files, the court decision allowed him to share information with the Strathroy detachment of the Ontario provincial police and with federal authorities, and Lauwers should have read that in the files.

The appeal claims Lauwers was wrong in finding Bourdeau “deceitful” because he has, in fact, provided full disclosure that he had retained copies.

Lauwers failed to notice that Bourdeau’s rights, under Canada’s Charter of Rights were violated when Gray’s lawyers did not warn him, as criminal law requires, that he has the right not to testify.

The appeal also says Lauwers completely ignored Gray’s reputation, including pictures to back allegations that he sold cracks and dirty eggs as Grade A.

The appeal says Lauwers also failed to consider Gray’s conflict of interest in filing four contempt-of-court charges against Bourdeau. Gray is fighting a lawsuit filed by Lind which involves the information Bourdeau took from Gray and a lawsuit Bourdeau has filed for wrongful dismissal.

Ontario finally responds

There are no regulations limiting egg graders who import from the U.S. from declaring surplus eggs that producers need to pay to move over to the processing market.

Weeks after the Farm Products Council of Canada responded to my question about regulations to prevent abuses of the egg supply management system, the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food has responded to the same request. Both say they can find no regulations at the Egg Farmers of Canada or the Egg Farmers of Ontario levels of supply management.

Yet in recent years, the volume of U.S. eggs imported under supplementary import permits, especially just before Christmas, has continued to increase and, with it, the volume of surplus declarations in January.

There was a time when it was a breach of regulations to be both importing U.S. eggs and declaring surpluses, and Joe Hudson paid for breaching that regulation by being booted off the board of directors of the Ontario egg board. He was, of course, re-elected by his grading station's egg suppliers, as have been his daughter and now the general manager of his Burnbrae empire.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Piller's sold

Waterloo – Piller’s Meats and Delicatessens Ltd. has been sold to Premium Brands of Vancouver for $133 million, $113 million cash and $74 million worth of Premium shares.

Another $10 million will be paid if Piller’s meets sales targets before the deal closes at the end of the month. It’s annual sales are about $180 million and it employs close to 600 people.

I consider Piller's the best meat-packing company in Canada, based on CFIA ratings of its facilities and the quality of its products.

Premium Brands says it will be a good fit in the deli meat business, pairing its strong Eastern Canadian sales with Grimm’s strong Western Canadian market.

It also owns half of a turkey-processing plant at Arthur.
Piller’s is run by the second generation of three Huber brothers who bought the business in 1957. They have won many national and European awards for sausages.
Piller’s out-flanked Schneider Corp. on the quality front, leaving the Kitchener company squeezed on the high-volume, lower-priced side of the market by Maple Leaf Foods Inc., which eventually bought Schneiders.
Piller’s grew rapidly during the 1990s,  building a number of large additions and the joint-venture plant at Arthur. New Life Mills, owners of the Swift brand for turkeys, is the partner there.