Maple Leaf To Construct New Food Processing Plant in Saskatchewan

WINNIPEG, MB -- Maple Leaf Foods is planning to expand its fresh and value-added pork processing operations in Saskatchewan through construction of a state-of-the-art fresh pork processing plant and related value-added investments, a release from the company said Thursday.

"This investment in Saskatchewan reinforces our strategy of establishing a network of world-class meat processing operations to meet growing consumer demand domestically and around the world for premium quality innovative pork products that are made in Canada," said Michael McCain, President and CEO of Maple Leaf Foods in a prepared statement.

Maple Leaf will construct a C$110 million primary pork processing facility on 35 acres in the Marquis Industrial area in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan and invest up to C$50 million in its value-added pork processing operations in the province, the release said.

The new plant will replace the 65 year-old Mitchell's plant in Saskatoon, which Maple Leaf purchased through the acquisition of Schneider Foods.

The plant currently processes 17,000 hogs per week and is operating at full capacity. It is highly integrated into the Schneider Foods procurement and production chain, with over two-thirds of its production supporting other value-added meat operations, and plays an important role in supporting the Saskatchewan pork industry, the release said.

The new plant will process 20,000 hogs per week on a single shift basis with the capacity to expand to 40,000 hogs per week on a double-shift operation, the release said. This new state-of-the-art facility will meet rigorous quality and product specifications for value-added fresh pork and specialty products.

The facility will complement Maple Leaf's higher throughput pork plant in Brandon, which will continue to focus on value-added processing for domestic and global markets.

Maple Leaf continues to support a double shift expansion at its Brandon plant based on international market growth for high quality pork, the release said.

Construction of the hog slaughter and cutting plant is expected to commence by mid-late 2006, with the hog slaughter operation commissioned approximately 18 to 24 months later, the release said.