Lethbridge, Alta. – A partnership is helping to fund upgrades to a pork facility, which will increase throughput and make the plant more efficient.
Maple Leaf Foods and the Alberta Livestock and Meat Agency (ALMA) have formed a partnership to upgrade equipment at Maple Leaf’s pork plant in response to market demand.
The equipment upgrades include a new carcass cooler and modifications to the processing environment.
Pork producers in the area also stand to gain as the plant is already a large buyer of pork in the Lethbridge area.
ALMA is contributing almost $500,000 to the project and Maple Leaf plans to spend more than $2.5 million.
Currently, the Lethbridge plant processes more than 1,300 hogs per day, most of which are bound for Japan and other international markets, says ALMA.
“We already have the capacity to slaughter 1,500 hogs a day, but our cooling capacity size and cut floor lay out can’t handle that volume,” says Severin Habetler, Plant manager for Maple Leaf Foods.
“Since we already know there is demand, it makes sense for us to upgrade the facility to process them.”
Although 200 hogs a day may seem like a small increase, says ALMA, this would represent an additional demand of at least 45,000 hogs a year. The stable demand for pork helps local producers and increases the sustainability of the pork industry during the current market difficulties.
“We’re always excited to see an increase in processing capacity because it increases the demand for Alberta pigs,” says Darcy Fitzgerald, executive director of Alberta Pork.
“Maple Leaf’s Lethbridge plant is strategically important, as it sells Canadian pork into the Japanese and other international markets where the value of our high-quality pork is known.”