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Premium Brands buys into Saskatoon processor

Vancouver food processing firm Premium Brands has bought a $2.5 million minority stake in a new Saskatoon meat processing company.

S.J. Irvine Fine Foods opened a facility in Saskatoon in January last year to make processed meats for the retail and foodservice sectors.

Premium Brands’ investment, announced Thursday, includes a deal giving it “certain call options” to raise its ownership stake in S.J. Irvine over time.

Premium Brands’ “global procurement initiatives, information systems expertise and unique proprietary distribution channels are industry-leading,” S.J. Irvine CEO Stu Irvine said in Premium Brands’ release.

“I have followed Premium Brands’ progress closely for the last number of years and greatly admire what it has accomplished in becoming one of Canada’s leading specialty food companies,” said Irvine, a former president of Mitchell’s Gourmet Foods, the Saskatoon meat company Maple Leaf absorbed in 2004.

Premium Brands, the income trust formerly known as Fletcher’s Fine Foods, owns food manufacturing and distribution facilities in the four western provinces and Washington state as well as food distribution and wholesale networks, through which it runs its own products and those of third parties.

Its own stable of brands includes Grimm’s, Harvest, McSweeney’s, Bread Garden, Hygaard, Hempler’s, Quality Fast Foods, Gloria’s Fresh, Harlan’s, Centennial Foodservice and B+C Foods.

The S.J. Irvine acquisition “provides us with the incremental capacity needed to continue growing our very successful Grimm’s and Harvest product lines,” Premium CEO George Paleologou said in the firm’s release.

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