Calgary RTE meat processor packing for Ontario

A Prairie meat processor serving the retail ready-to-eat market has picked up public funding to move its business from Calgary to the Niagara region.

New Food Classics, based in Calgary, will get $1 million from Ontario’s Rural Economic Development program for its planned move to a former poultry plant at St. Catharines, Ont.

“With the newly retrofitted facility in St. Catharines, New Food Classics will have adequate capacity to meet current customer demand, with significant potential for future manufacturing capacity expansion which means potential for new jobs,” New Food CEO Brian Cram said in the province’s release Friday.

The new site is expected to help better connect New Food Classics with its regional consumers and distributors, the province said.

The relocation is expected to create up to 150 near-term jobs and up to 400 over the next five years, while also boosting product demand from meat producers and processors, the province said.

New Food Classics, according to its website, currently operates three facilities: two in Calgary and one in Saskatoon. It bills itself as a “custom designer and manufacturer of value-added meat, poultry, seafood and meatless products” for the private-label and control-brand retail business.

Its major product categories, it said, include “value-added” burgers and ground meats, ready-to-heat convenience foods, portion-control products and specialty items such as appetizers and finger foods.

Cram was not available for comment Friday about how much of the company’s production or other operations would remain in Calgary, or what the move would mean for its Saskatoon plant.

The St. Catharines Standard reported Saturday that New Food Classics plans to invest over $5 million in the facility, formerly operated by Burlington, Ont.-based chicken processor Pinty’s Delicious Foods.

The retrofitted facility is expected to reopen for business in February, hiring some former Pinty’s staff, the newspaper said.

The Standard’s Monique Beech quoted company officials as saying New Food Classics was moving east to be closer to its Eastern Canada and U.S. clients, which together account for about 60 per cent of its business.

The newspaper also quoted Cram as saying the St. Catharines plant will not get its meat supply from the Niagara region but from other parts of Ontario, the U.S., New Zealand and Australia.

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