Friday, September 30, 2022

Maple Leaf poultry plant Is ready

 Construction has been completed on the $600-million poultry processing plant Maple Leaf Foods Inc. has built in London, Ont.

It has begun to hire 600 workers so the plant can begin operations before the end of the year.

The facility combines processing that has been done in a number of much smaller plants Maple Leaf owns.

Construction of the  660,000-square-foot plant took three years.

"I am incredibly proud of our team for achieving this important milestone ahead of schedule in a very challenging environment," said chief executive officer Michael McCain.

When the plant is at full capacity by the end of next year  it will employ 1,600 workers. Current employees have an offer of jobs at the new facility.

Investors were informed recently that it will take another $100 million to get the plant up to speed.

I recall challenging McCain to either sell his poultry division or invest enough to make it efficiency-competitive with processors in the United States. It took a long time, but he has finally made the investment.

It's too bad it doesn't involve a combination of Maple Lodge and Maple Leaf.

When the day comes - and it will - that the Canadian chicken industry faces greater competition from imports, farmers and everyone else involved in the Canadian chicken industry will need a highly-efficient, high-volume chicken processing facility.

There will still be plenty of room for small, specialty-product processors and producers. The Ontario chicken board deserves credit for paving the way for them to set up business.

One major reform remains: an end to plant supply management.