SW Ont. pork plant backed for upgrades

Southwestern Ontario pork processor Conestoga Meat Packers will get public funds for deboning and packaging systems, with which the farmers’ co-op-owned packer expects to boost its output and exports.

The province last week pledged a $350,000 contribution for new deboning technologies and improved product packaging at the company’s plant at Breslau, just east of Kitchener.

The upgrades are expected to “expand the organization’s processing capacities and result in improved product shelf-life,” the province said in a release, adding that the new systems are expected to create up to 40 new jobs and “bolster export activity.”

Conestoga, with the new systems, “can meet the demand for high-quality pork products both domestically and internationally,” company president Arnold Drung said in the province’s July 27 release

“This means more support for Ontario’s hog industry, and more job opportunities here in the Breslau area.”

“This investment will help (Conestoga) respond to the growing demand for Ontario pork at home and abroad,” provincial Ag Minister Carol Mitchell said in the same release.

The funding will flow through the province’s Rural Economic Development Program.

Conestoga, which supplies domestic and export customers in the retail and foodservice sectors, also picked up a $2.3 million loan from the federal Slaughter Improvement Program late last year for other value-added processing renovations at Breslau.

Added capacity

The province on July 22 also pledged $2 million in Rural Economic Development Program funds for another southwestern-region pork packer, Great Lakes Specialty Meats, an arm of Toronto-based Quality Meat Packers.

The funding in that case is budgeted to install new equipment, boost refrigeration capacity and set up “specialized” training for employees at Great Lakes’ plant at Mitchell, about 60 km north of London.

Great Lakes, which also got a federal Slaughter Improvement Program loan last year for $4.5 million, expects the province’s latest funding to help triple its processing rate to 15,000 hogs per week and add up to 160 new jobs.

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