Olymel to pool Quebec hog processing partnerships


A pair of hog packing and processing plants in Quebec’s Mauricie region are set to join forces through their common business partner for a major expansion.

Olymel, the meat packing and processing arm of Quebec’s Coop Federee, announced Tuesday it has sealed a partnership deal with livestock producer and processor Groupe Robitaille.

That deal, first announced last November, gives Olymel a 50 per cent share in family-owned Robitaille’s hog slaughter, butchering and processing arm, Aliments Lucyporc.

The two companies in turn have pledged an $80 million investment in the Lucyporc plant’s hometown of Yamachiche, about 20 km west of Trois-Rivieres. That investment, however, will go mainly into expansion, reorganization and upgrades at Atrahan Transformation, another federally-inspected hog slaughter and pork boning and cutting plant at Yamachiche.

Olymel and Atrahan reached a separate partnership deal in February last year. Following the expansion and reorganization at the Atrahan plant, expected to be complete within three years, a second shift will be introduced, doubling the plant’s production volume, the companies said.

On top of the 360 Atrahan staff and 430 Lucyporc staff already working at Yamachiche, the expansion is expected to create another 350 jobs, the companies said. Both plants are also expected to keep operating over the 36-month expansion period.

The Atrahan operation is already Quebec’s fourth-biggest pork packing facility, processing almost one million hogs a year. Its expansion is to include “redevelopment” of its hog receiving area, expansion of its slaughter section, cold rooms and butchering room, storage areas, shipping and service areas, as well as water treatment facilities, followed by outfitting with “the latest equipment.”

The Atrahan expansion, Olymel said, “will create ideal conditions for sharing of expertise and maintenance and compliance with product specifications, thus enabling it to satisfy the customer requirements, especially in Japan.”

Lucyporc, which was set up at Yamachiche in 1998 and already specializes in products such as Nagano pork and the Mugifuji brand for the Japanese export market, “will play a vital role in meeting the standards in product specifications,” the companies said.

Once the expansion is ready, the day shift at the Atrahan plant on des Acadiens Road in Yamachiche “will be mainly devoted to producing value-added products under the Mugifuji and Nagano brands in full compliance with Lucyporc specifications for these products.”

Olymel CEO Rejean Nadeau, in Tuesday’s release, said the company’s “analysis of market developments and partnerships concluded in recent years… has led us to develop a new business model designed to adapt to the challenges of today’s markets.”

The new manufacturing model, he said, is meant “to put our fresh pork sector in Eastern Canada back on track to long-term profitability, on the one hand, and on the other, to increase its efficiency, while acquiring the means to further improve the quality of our production and ensure the success of value-added products.”

The partnership and expansion will also allow the partners to “take advantage of the synergies generated by pooling our expertise and strengths so as position ourselves for the long term and be increasingly responsive to our customers,” Groupe Robitaille president Claude Robitaille said in the same release.

The companies said their reorganization plan is also “under discussion” with workers at both Yamachiche plants, both represented by TUAC (UFCW) Local 1991-P. The Atrahan plant’s workers ratified a three-year deal earlier this year, running to early November 2018. — AGCanada.com Network

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