Maple Leaf to shut West Coast deli meat plant

A prepared meats plant at Surrey, B.C. is scheduled as the next casualty in Maple Leaf Foods’ consolidation plans.

The Toronto agrifood firm on Tuesday said it will start winding down operations at the Vancouver-area plant in May and close the facility on Sept. 30, affecting about 165 employees.

Production will then be consolidated at the company’s other prepared meats facilities in Saskatoon, Winnipeg and various sites in Ontario, where Maple Leaf said there will be “available capacity” following “some modest upgrades.”

The Surrey plant, which came to Maple Leaf when it bought Schneider Foods in 2004, produces and packages ham, sliced beef and pork, smoked sausage and “European-style” deli meats mainly for retail and foodservice customers across Western Canada.

“The closure of the Surrey plant is an important step towards consolidating our manufacturing at fewer, dedicated scale plants, resulting in reduced supply chain costs and better efficiencies,” Rick Young, the company’s executive vice-president for consumer foods, said in a release Tuesday.

“While necessary, we regret the impact on our skilled and dedicated employees,” who will be “encouraged” to apply for work at other Maple Leaf facilities, Young said.

In B.C., those include a plant at Delta making fresh and frozen pastas and sauces, including the company’s own Olivieri brand; two Canada Bread bakeries at Langley and Delta; and a prepared meats distribution centre at Coquitlam.

The price tag for closing the Surrey plant is expected to total about $12.1 million before taxes, the company said, noting severance pay, decommissioning costs and asset write-downs.

Of that, the company said it will book about $4 million in its first fiscal quarter ending March 31, with the remainder to follow in the fourth quarter when the plant is decommissioned.

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