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Quebec backs Monteregie meat packer for new plant

A southwestern Quebec beef, pork and poultry processor’s plans for a new $16.6 million plant have been spotted for $3 million from the province.

The loan to Viandes Paquette, announced Monday, will come from Investissement Quebec’s Strategic Support for Investment Program (PASI), for a project that’s expected to create 209 jobs in the province’s Monteregie region over the next three years.

Family-owned Viandes Paquette, now operating in a 27-year-old plant at Henryville, about 20 km south of St-Jean-sur-Richelieu, will move into a new facility on its current property.

The new plant and new equipment, some of which was specifically made for the company and its products, are expected to meet federally-administered HACCP standards.

The province noted the new plant is to be the first in Canada to include a freon-free cooling plant run on ammonium hydroxide and ethylene glycol.

The company also plans to set up a water recovery system and plumbing with electronic valves to dial back the plant’s water consumption by “thousands” of cubic metres per year, the province said.

“Our objective was to review each component in minute detail to enhance the building’s quality and energy efficiency, with the specific goal of reducing our environmental footprint,” company president Guy Paquette said in the province’s release.

The company’s products include portion-controlled cuts of beef, pork, chicken and veal for the restaurant, hotel and institutional foodservice sectors as well as retailers.

“Developmental role”

Viandes Paquette’s project is expected to dovetail with the expansion of Pasquier, a major independent grocer at St-Jean-sur-Richelieu, also owned by the Paquettes and expected to create 100 jobs, the province noted.

“When you consider the 31 current jobs at Viandes Paquette’s first plant, which has been operating since 1974, the company is playing a more important developmental role than ever in the region’s economic growth,” Nicole Menard, the provincial minister for the Monteregie, said in the release.

PASI targets investments that support either the consolidation of a sector in which Quebec has competitive advantages, without harming existing companies’ business, or the development of products that are distinctive in their commercial potential or innovative nature.

Companies or groups receiving PASI loans or grants must complete their investment projects within three years or their product development project within five.

The Paquette development stems from Accord Bioalimentaire, an effort by players in the Monteregie’s food processing sector to build up value chains connecting the region’s farms and processors.

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