The $50-million Sunnymel plant is now open to process chickens in New Brunswick.
It was built as a result of a battle between Nadeau Poultry Inc., which once dominated the chicken-processing business in the province, and Groupe Westco which controls the majority of the province’s chicken production.
Westco pulled out of Nadeau, which is owned by Maple Lodge Farms Ltd. of Norval, Ont., and began shipping its birds to an Olymel plant in Quebec.
Sunnymel is a joint project of Westco and Olymel.
The new plant began processing chickens last fall, but now is officially open and able to process up to 12,000 birds per hour with a staff of about 200.
It also processes some birds from Nova Scotia.
Nadeau kept its plant supplied with birds from Nova Scotia after the main plant there burned down, then went into a joint ventiure to build a new plant in Nova Scotia.
More recently Nadeau has been pulling birds out of Quebec.
That is an irritant to Quebec which recently signed an agreement with Ontario to ban inter-provincial trade in live chickens, ending bidding competition that saw about 10 per cent of the production in each province going to processors in the other province.
Earlier this month, a group of French-language farmers in Eastern Ontario won a court battle against the Ontario chicken marketing board, giving them the right – despite the ban on inter-provincial trade – to market their birds to processing plants in Quebec.
The national supply management agency, Chicken Farmers of Canada, appears to be incapable of settling these destructive inter-provincial battles.