Four new food processing plants are slated for construction in Manitoba and Saskatchewan over the next couple of years.
In what is very good news for Manitoba beef producers, Natural Prairie Beef, a relatively new producer-operated co-operative, has purchased a former Maple Leaf hog plant in Winnipeg and is redeveloping it as the first new federally inspected cattle slaughter and processing facility in Manitoba in several decades. Maple Leaf closed the 75-year-old pork plant last fall as part of a reorganization of its operations in the province. Natural Prairie Beef paid $1.2 million for the plant and is planning to spend more than $25 million to upgrade and redevelop the building.
According to beef producer and company CEO and president Kelly Penner, the new processor will initially be selling its product within Manitoba only, and will be marketing it as a natural product. The company is also looking into selling kosher and halal-certified product. The plant is expected to be fully operational – processing 250 head of cattle per week – by 2010.
Elsewhere in the province there are reports that Weston Bakeries is planning to build a $25-million, 115,000-sq.-ft. bakery and distribution centre in south Winnipeg to replace its current aged plant in an inner city neighbourhood. And in southern Manitoba, Jim Spencer, general manager of the Sunbelt Development Group, which manages four industrial parks in the area, reports that Swedish food processor ANR Foods and its Canadian subsidiary Zeb Rice are building a $12-million, 25,000-sq.-ft. pulse crop processing plant near the community of Altona. The plant will process lentils, dry beans and chickpeas, for sale in North America and Europe, and is scheduled to be operational by the end of December.
Saskatchewan is also seeing new construction, with the earlier announcement that Winnipeg-based grain company James Richardson International will go ahead with construction of a $100-million canola crushing plant in Yorkton. Pat Vanosh, the vice-president of JRI subsidiary Canbra Foods, reports that the plant, which will be completed by 2010, will be able to process 2,400 metric tonnes of canola crush per day.