Maple Leaf sets site for eastern distribution centre

Maple Leaf Foods has written the second half of its plan to flow all its Canadian distribution of processed meats through two centres.

Toronto-based Maple Leaf announced in October that it would shut four of its distribution facilities by late 2014, instead handling all its products for Western Canada through an existing plant in Saskatoon, and its markets in central and Eastern Canada through a new plant to be built somewhere in Ontario.

The company said Thursday it will seek regulatory approvals for a site in Puslinch Township as the home for the Ontario centre. Puslinch is about 30 km northwest of Hamilton, where Maple Leaf is building a new 402,000-square foot prepared meats plant.

The planned 282,000-square foot Puslinch centre, to be built beginning later this spring for start-up sometime in the first half of 2013, is expected to combine Maple Leaf’s distribution of "ambient, refrigerated and frozen products" into one facility.

Maple Leaf, however, will only lease the Puslinch centre, which instead will be built and owned by a "third-party investor," Mississauga-based logistics firm DB Schenker.

The location is close to Maple Leaf’s other eastern prepared meats facilities and provides "ready access through the 400 series highways," the company said.

"This new facility will simplify our distribution network and significantly increase our supply chain efficiencies," Maple Leaf CEO Michael McCain said in the company’s release.

Partnering with Maple Leaf "expands our existing strength in the fast-moving consumer packaged goods market," Schenker CEO Eric Dewey said in the same release.

The move to Puslinch is part of what Maple Leaf described in October as the last phase of its "value creation plan," in which distribution centres will be shut down at Coquitlam, B.C. in early 2012, Kitchener and Burlington, Ont. in early 2013 and Moncton in late 2014.

Maple Leaf also said in October it will consolidate its meat further-processing into four plants, including the Hamilton facility, and permanently close six others in four provinces.

Related story:
Maple Leaf plans expansions, closures across prepared meats business, Oct. 19, 2011

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