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Alberta meat processor lays off half its staff

EU beef quotas force SunGold to suspend beef processing and refocus its business on lamb processing


Innisfail, Alta. – SunGold Specialty Meats has had to lay off 75 employees, a decision the company says is due to a European Union quota system on beef imports.

In a statement SunGold says it has operated as a multi-species operation processing beef, bison and lamb, but will now focus its efforts on lamb processing only.

E.U. quota system

The AlbertaFarmExpress.ca reports that the industry had hoped the E.U. quota system would create opportunities for Canada to export beef across the Atlantic, but it hasn’t worked out that way. Some farmers say the system works very much like a tariff again, adding extra costs to the system and slowing down the movement of beef by making it too expensive.

Lamb processing

The company had made several improvements and upgrades to its facility for the purpose of processing both beef and lamb.

SunGold says it is a key market for Alberta lambs, processing 70 per cent of the annual Alberta market lamb production.

The RedDearAdvocate.com reports that the facility is the only federally inspected lamb processor in Alberta and is critical to that industry.

The plan is to increase the lamb side of the business, reports the AlbertaFarmExpress.ca. Currently it’s at more than 1,000 head of lamb per week and plans to increase that to 1,500 a week.

The company will continue to handle some beef and bison on a custom basis.