Premium Brands buys up Ontario meat processors


Specialty food firm Premium Brands’ plans to build a “protein platform” in Ontario now include a pair of processors offering bacon, burgers, ribs, steaks and chicken.

The Vancouver company announced Thursday it has bought Skilcor Food Products of Brampton, just over a week after closing a deal for Leadbetter Foods of Orillia. Financial terms of both deals weren’t disclosed.

Leadbetter, which books annual sales of about $55 million, is billed as one of Ontario’s leading manufacturers of specialty bacon, fresh and frozen burgers, portion-cut steaks and chops and sausages at two plants in Orillia, including a 47,000-square foot bacon plant custom-built in 2012.

Skilcor, meanwhile, reports annual sales of about $27 million and is billed as one of Canada’s leading manufacturers of cooked back ribs and other products, including barbecued chicken and meatballs, out of a 34,000-square foot plant built in 2006.

Premium’s CEO George Paleologou on Sept. 19 described the deal for Leadbetter as the company’s “next step towards our objective of building a leading specialty protein platform in Ontario.”

Leadbetter sells retail products under the Leadbetters and Leadbetters Cowboy brands, and foodservice products under the Great Canadian Burger and Sunshine City brands.

Leadbetter, Paleologou said, complements Premium’s Belmont Meats burger business, which it bought in October last year, and “will also help with the launch of our Centennial business’ Ontario operations.”

Centennial, a foodservice meat processor which Premium bought in 2007 with operations across Western Canada, is expected to open a new 105,000-square foot, $14 million custom cutting and distribution plant in the Toronto area at the end of this year, Paleologou said.

The Skilcor deal, meanwhile, “will not only expand our portfolio of products but will also give us specialized production capacity that will enable us to provide customers with premium quality differentiated protein solutions in the high-growth ready-to-eat product category,” he said.

Skilcor markets its products under the Cobblestone Farms brand and also custom-makes fully-cooked ribs for private-label clients.

Premium, formerly known as Fletcher’s Fine Foods, markets its products under brands including Harvest, Grimm’s, Freybe, Hygaard, Quality Fast Foods, Hempler’s, Made-Rite, Creekside, Stuyver’s and Piller’s, among others.

Premium’s other acquisitions in the past 12 months have included Diana’s Seafood and Belmont Meats, both of Toronto, along with British Columbia processors Island City Baking, Conte Foods and Larosa Fine Foods. — Network


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