Major fresh vegetable packer to double capacity

Canada’s biggest fresh produce processor has picked up public funding toward an $8.3 million expansion with which it plans to double its production capacity and boost its market reach.

Pride Pak Canada on Monday confirmed a $2.3 million loan through Ontario’s economic development ministry for the expansion work at its Mississauga facility.

The investment will go toward “new, more efficient, machinery and refrigeration technology,” the province said, adding that the new equipment will also increase the shelf life of Pride Pak’s fresh-cut produce and allow it to ship to customers across North America.

Pride Pak’s product lineup now includes fresh-cut vegetables such as carrot and celery sticks; broccoli and cauliflower florets; shredded lettuce, carrots and cabbage; diced and slivered onions, peppers and celery; chopped iceberg lettuce and romaine lettuce; stir-fry and other vegetable mixes; various salad mixes; and packaged apple slices.

The company notes all its products are processed without preservatives and currently have a shelf life of eight to 21 days.

The company’s general manager Gary Turner, in the province’s release, described the expansion as “modernizing our operations to ensure the continued growth and profitability of the company.”

The doubling of capacity at the Mississauga plant is expected to create 61 jobs and “support” another 20. The plant’s current staff roster is 150 people.

Businessman Steven Karr set up Pride Pak Canada Ltd. in Mississauga in 1984 in view of what the company called a “growing trend” for a demand for easy-to-use fresh produce. The company opened a second plant at Paradise, N.L., west of St. John’s, in 2006 to process vegetables and fruit for the Newfoundland market.

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